By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
On 11 April 2020, New South Wales police made the appalling discovery of 40 cars within a closed area west of Newcastle that had gathered for the purpose of burnouts and street racing, much to the defiance also of COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings.
At around 4pm on Saturday, Highway Patrol were called to a secluded National Parks road in Stockrington Conservation Area on Haul Road, where they made the sighting.
Officers raided the gathering of enthusiasts as they carried out their burnout offences.
While about half were quick to escape to surrounding bushland, the other 19 were fined.
Amongst the fines included those of $1,000 for breaching the Public Health Order, while each were also hit with a supplementary $300 fine for entering a closed national park.
According to police, two vehicles had also been brought to the site on trailers that were specifically modified to conduct burnouts.
Police Notice Nine-Year-Old and Two Babies Aged 18 Months at Burnout Rally
To make matters more concerning, police discovered three children – one nine-year-old and two babies aged 18 months, amongst the adults at the burnout rally.
The adults present at the street racing event ranged in age from 18 to 36.
Speaking of the incident, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command’s Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said this was precisely the kind of occurrence his officers had been working to prevent.
“Gatherings of virtually any kind are breaching the current Public Health Order but gathering to conduct street racing and burnouts in a park is illegal, irresponsible and beyond my understanding,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.
“I am appalled at the fact that up to 40 drivers were willing to put themselves and others at risk on so many levels.
“And I am even more appalled by the fact three children – who have no choice in the matter – were also exposed to risk.”
Assistant Commissioner Corboy went on to advice that his officers would be alerting the relevant authorities to the actions of their parents and caregivers.
“We have identified 19 people who will be getting Penalty Infringement Notices, and we will be working to identify the other drivers who fled,” he said.
He urged anyone with information about the incident to come forward, while warning that his officers would continue to monitor the situation and take action if breaches are found.
What is “Car Hoon” Behaviour?
In NSW, car hoon behaviour is the term given to anti-social and dangerous behaviour committed when driving a motor vehicle.
This includes burnouts, street racing, being involved in a police pursuit offence, and driving at least 45 km/h over.
In NSW, as per advice from the RMS, robust measures are put in place to contest anti-social car hoon behaviour.
Put simply, under the NSW law, irresponsible drivers cannot treat the roads as their own personal race track.
This is considered selfish and dangerous behaviour, and authorities have warned that they will not tolerate it.
The Penalties for Hoon Driving in NSW
In NSW, the penalties are substantial for those who commit anti-social and hoon driver behaviour, whether in a car, van or motorbike.
The maximum penalty is $1,100 fine in court for operating a motor vehicle in a way that causes the vehicle to undergo a sustained loss of traction by one or more of the wheels, under section 116 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).
There are heavier penalties if a person does this in any of the following circumstances::
- Does this knowing that any petrol, oil, diesel fuel, or other inflammable liquid is placed on the surface of the road beneath one or more tyres; or
- Does, or omits to do anything that prolongs, sustains, intensifies or increases loss of traction; or
- Continues to operate the vehicle in that way; or
- Operates a vehicle in that manner at a time or on a road in a place knowing that there’s an appreciable risk that operation of the vehicle in that way at that time and place is likely to interfere with the amenity of the locality or peaceful enjoyment of a person in the locality or make the place unsafe for any person there; or
- Willingly participates in any group activity involving the operation of vehicle(s) contrary to this law; or
- Organises, promotes or urges any person to participate in or view, any group activity involving such operation of one or more vehicles in such a manner; or
- Photographs or films this for the purpose of organising or promoting the participation of people in any such group activity.
These offences carry up to $3,300 fine for a first-time offender. A second or subsequent offender of this will face the same maximum fine plus up to 9-months jail, under section 116(2) Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).
Those penalties apply if the matter is elected by the alleged offender to be heard in court. (which is optional). Normally, police will issue an $686 on-the-spot fine attracting 3 demerit points for committing a burnout offence in NSW.
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