New Police Powers – Lose self control & lose the car

Posted on November 30th, 2012

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by David Gawthorne

David Gawthorne is a Senior Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay in Newcastle and an Accredited Specialist in Family, Relationship and Matrimonial Law

In July of this year, the powers of NSW Police were increased to make certain sanctions available where drivers commit an expanded class of traffic offences. The offences to which the sanctions now apply include exceeding the speed limit by more than 45 km/h, street racing, performing “burn outs” and causing a pursuit by fleeing police. The new measures are clearly targeted at younger drivers with high-powered vehicles, who may be tempted to find enjoyment at a cost to the community of peace and safety.

If a police officer comes to reasonably believe that such an offence has been committed using a particular vehicle within the preceding 10 days then police may seize the vehicle or require the driver to deliver the vehicle to be impounded. Police are also empowered, in those circumstances, to remove and confiscate the vehicle’s licence plates or require them to be removed by the driver.

If the offence is a second offence of its kind for the driver then the vehicle is forfeited to the Government, unless a Court is satisfied that extreme hardship would be caused to some person. The forfeited vehicle will then either be sold or disposed of, including by using it in a road safety crash test.

These outcomes may seem right and proper given that a driver must commit multiple serious driving offences before a vehicle is forfeited. Yet, spare a thought for the parent who lets their adult son borrow the family car one too many times.

David Gawthorne is a Senior Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay, and practises extensively in Family, Relationship and Matrimonial Law. If you require any assistance in this area please contact David Gawthorne to arrange a consultation or contact our Newcastle office.

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