What are the Penalties for Drag Racing or Doing Burnouts in NSW?

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.


Burnouts. They’re a great pastime for bored buffoons who have cars with a little bit of power, wishing to create a menace on the roads.

They’re also a great way to threaten public safety and disturb the peace – you know, slam the gas, let the wheels break loose, steer the vehicle, and for the love of God hope people stay out of your way.

As if unnecessarily slamming the gas and praying that you can control your car’s skid wasn’t reckless enough, last week, the general antipathy to burnouts reached boiling point when a P-plater was charged after she allegedly did a burnout in a Sydney carpark with a 10-month-old baby in the back seat.


A Doughnut for a Doughnut? Police Catch Woman Doing “Large Burnout” at Western Sydney Krispy Kreme

On the night of 28 June 2019, police drove past Krispy Kreme on Orange Grover Rd in Liverpool when they were stunned to notice a woman doing a huge burnout in the carpark.

Around 11pm, the Highway Patrol officers pulled her over. But things only got worse.

Firstly, they noticed that her baby son of 10 months was in the rear seat of the vehicle.

Then police realised the 23-year-old woman from Liverpool was a P-plater who was not displaying any plates and her Holden Calais had been illegally modified.

Specifically, the car’s six-cylinder engine had been replaced by a highly modified V8 engine that had only a partial exhaust system fitted.


Young Mother Issued Court Notice for Offence of Aggravated Burnout

The woman was issued with a Field Court Attendance Notice for the offence of aggravated burnout. She will appear at Liverpool Local Court on 17 July.

Further to this, the woman was also issued three infringement notices for driving a prohibited vehicle, not displaying P-plates and not carrying a licence.  Her fines amounted to $936 and her provisional licence was suspended.

Police also immediately submitted a “child at risk” report to the Department of Family and Community Services.


Brainless Burnout Behaviour: Woman Just “Happened to go Over Speed Hump”

Speaking to 9 News after her arrest, the young mum made an apology for her behaviour.

“I just happened to go over a speed hump and put my foot down, I wasn’t doing a big burnout, I know I stuffed up,” she said.

Her partner, who was also in the vehicle at the time of the burnout, said the incident was “stupid”.

“We had our kid in the car, it was a very stupid move,” he said.

“We know we could’ve hurt or even killed somebody, but we are very, very sorry, and we want every young person out there to take care on the road… it’s just not worth it.”


Anti-Social “Car Hoon” Behaviour in NSW

In NSW, anti-social and dangerous behaviour committed when driving a motor vehicle is referred to as “hooning”.

Along with burnouts, types of hooning include speed racing, being involved in a police pursuit, and driving at least 45 km/h over the speed limit – otherwise knowns as a high range speeding offence.

As the RMS advises, in NSW, tough measures are in place to combat anti-social “car hoon” behaviour.

Essentially, the laws make it clear for irresponsible drivers that they cannot treat NSW roads as their own personal race track. This is considered selfish and dangerous behaviour, and will not be tolerated by authorities.

Heavy Penalties for Burnouts or Drag Racing Behaviour in NSW

In NSW, heavy penalties and consequences exist for those who commit anti-social and hoon driver behaviour in a car, van or motorbike.

Around Australia, dangerous driving penalties differ from state to state. These include impounding or confiscating vehicles suspected to be involved in the commission of a dangerous driving offence.

These penalties are also determined upon whether the offender has formerly been convicted of one of these offences.

A driver who operates the motor vehicle on a road in a way that he/she causes its wheel(s) to undergo a sustained loss of traction will face an on-the-spot fine of $686 with 3 demerit points.

If the driver wishes to avoid incurring those demerit points and fine, he/she can court-elect the fine.

This will then require a court attendance where a ‘plea of guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ will be required to be entered in front of a Local Court Magistrate.

If you’re found guilty or if you plead guilty, you will avoid the demerit points and fine if the Magistrate imposes a non-conviction sentence (section 10 dismissal or Conditional Release Order without conviction).

To increase the chances of getting a non-conviction sentence or penalty in court, we strongly recommend preparing 2 to 3 carefully selected good character letters for court in your traffic case.

The risk of court-electing is that the Magistrate has the option to impose a maximum penalty of up to $1,100, which is in addition to the 3 demerit points. (section 116 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW)).

Further to the above, if a person operates a motor vehicle on a road in a way so as to cause it’s wheel or wheels to undergo a sustained loss of traction in any one of the following circumstances will face a maximum penalty of $3,300 (if it’s a first offence) or $3,300 and/or 9-months prison (if it’s a ‘second or subsequent offence’):

  1. Knowing that petrol, oil, fuel or other inflammable liquid is on the surface of the road underneath the tyres; or
  2. Do anything (or omit to do anything) that prolongs, intensifies, sustains or increases the loss of traction; or
  3. Repeatedly causing the wheel(s) to undergo a sustained loss of traction on the road; or
  4. Doing this on a road or at a time you know there’s an appreciable risk that operation of the vehicle in such a manner at that place and time is likely to interfere with the amenity of the locality or the peaceful enjoyment of any person in the locality or make the place unsafe for any person in the locality; or
  5. Participating in a group activity involving the operation of one or more vehicles; or
  6. Promote, organise, arrange or urge a person to participate in, or view a group activity involving the operation of a vehicle in this way; or
  7. Film or photograph a motor vehicle being operated in this way for the purposes of promoting or organising the participation of people in such group activity.

A defence to the charge of drag racing or burnouts includes, if the person accused can prove on the balance of probabilities that the vehicle was not so deliberated operated in such a way as to cause the wheel(s) to undergo a sustained loss of traction or loss of traction in any one of the above circumstances.

Other defences include, an honest and reasonable mistake of fact defence, or you did this with the approval of the commissioner of police or you acted under a necessity or duress at the time.

In addition, unless a non-conviction penalty (sentence) gets imposed, if the Magistrate convicts you for 1,2,3 or 4 of the above circumstances, you will also receive a 12-month licence disqualification period (or a shorter or longer period at the discretion of the Local Court Magistrate in court).

Click here for an outline of when the police can seize and impound your car or even remove ad confiscate your number plates in NSW.

Our specialist traffic defence lawyers appear in all courts and are available to prove a free first appointment if you wish to discuss this further. Contact us 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

About Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia are Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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