Tougher laws regarding street racing in Sydney and NSW have only taken effect relatively recently.
In 2007, the NSW government announced stronger penalties for those found guilty of street racing and performing dangerous driving manoeuvres, such as burnouts, on public roads.
There were laws in place previously regarding street racing and dangerous driving, but they were more lenient with lower penalties, and generally those convicted were only likely to be jailed if the offence was combined with another one, such as injuring a pedestrian or another motorist.
Why has the law changed?
The laws were changed after a number of street racing incidents involving other vehicles, and numerous complaints about dangerous driving behaviour from street racers.
The death of an elderly couple caused by street racers in Sydney’s west in 2007 sparked a lot of media publicity around the dangers of street racing, which led to the laws being changed.
What is street racing?
Street racing refers to drag racing and road racing or any organised event where cars race each other on the road.
Street racing laws can also be applied in more impromptu situations where two cars are at traffic lights or a stop sign, and they participate in a race.
The street racing laws also cover illegal driving manoeuvres. Under street racing laws, it is also illegal to organise any street racing activities.
What are the penalties for street racing?
Where previously the penalties for street racing were much lower, they have risen since the new legislation.
Previously those found guilty of street racing faced a maximum penalty of a 12 month disqualification, confiscation of their vehicle and a maximum fine of $2,200.
There was no jail term unless another offence was committed at the same time.
Under the new system, drivers found guilty of street racing offences can find themselves facing:
- Disqualification period of a minimum of 12 months
- Confiscation of their vehicle, in some cases permanently
- Potential prison term of a maximum of two years
- Maximum fine of $3,300
How long will my car be confiscated if I am caught street racing?
Under the new legislation, cars can be confiscated on the spot if you are caught street racing.
Sydney laws state that your vehicle can be impounded for up to three months for a first offence.
For further offences, the police can take your car permanently and sell it, or give it to the RTA to use in crash tests.
If the vehicle is not yours, a suspension warning notice will be issued to the registered owner, warning them that the vehicle registration can be suspended if the vehicle is used in street racing offences in the future.
Can I avoid conviction for a street racing offence?
In some cases it is possible to obtain a section 10 for a street racing offence.
A section 10 is a finding of guilt without a criminal conviction. If you can successfully obtain a section 10 for your street racing offence, you will be able to avoid penalties or having a criminal conviction on your driving record.
If you have been charged with a street racing offence, it is essential that you find an experienced lawyer to represent you.
Street racing is a serious driving offence, which can lead to you losing your licence, or vehicle, or even ending up in prison.