Not so fast and furious
If you’re a car enthusiast you should know that doing burnouts is one of the fastest ways to lose your licence and lose your car. But do you know what the police need to prove for you to be convicted of these offences? And do you know what the actual penalties are?
What is a burnout?
Section 116(1) of the Road Transport Act (NSW) 2103 says a burnout is operating a motor vehicle in a manner that causes ‘sustained loss of traction by one or more of the driving wheels’. The penalty for this is a $659 infringement and 3 demerit points. A court can impose fines of up to $1100.
Circumstances that make a burnout ‘aggravated’ include things such as:
- Repeatedly doing burnouts
- Doing burnouts in an area that is likely to disturb the amenity or peacefulness of the local area or make it unsafe
- Knowing that oil or fuel has been poured on the road
An aggravated burnout is also known as a ‘sanctionable offence’ under s.238 of the Road Transport Act (NSW) 2103 which means the police can seize your number plates or order you to surrender them for a period of 3 months. The police can also suspend your licence immediately and this suspension remains in place until your matter is determined by a court. If this happens you can appeal to get your licence back.
If the burnout is ‘aggravated’ there is no infringement notice and you’ll have to face court where you can receive a fine of up to $3,300 for your first offence or if it’s your second offence the court can issue fines up to $3,300 and gaol you for you for up to 9 months. There is also an automatic 1 year disqualification for any aggravated offence
Are there any defences to doing a burnout?
Section 116(3) says that it is a defence to a burnout if you can prove to the court on the balance of probabilities that the vehicle was not driven that way deliberately. The practical problem with this is that drivers often think they’ll avoid the fine by saying something like, “I can’t help it – the wheels spin every time I take off” or blaming the way in which the car is tuned. The unfortunate outcome of statements like this is that the police may believe you and then slap a red label defect on the car meaning it needs to be towed and can’t be driven until its cleared by an authorised mechanic.
How can they prove it was me?
One of the main things the police must prove is that you were the actual driver at the time of the offence. These days burnouts are often brought to the attention of police through members of the public uploading You Tube videos, dash cam footage, and even footage from home CCTV systems. Once the police have the registration number of the vehicle they will normally speak to the registered owner of the car and place what is called a ‘form of demand’ on them. That means they can legally force the registered owner to nominate who was driving at the time of the alleged offence.
Failing to nominate the driver can result in the registered owner being fined up to $842 (although there is no demerit points) or being charged and facing a fine of up to $2,200 at court.
What if i’ve received a fine for a burnout?
If you believe that someone has reported you for doing a burnout or uploaded footage of your vehicle doing a burnout you should get in touch with us immediately. At Marsh Blom Lawyers we are ex prosecutors and we know the steps that the police will take to investigate the matter and we know exactly what they need to do to successfully prosecute the matter. That means if there are any shortfalls in the prosecution case we will be able to identify them and ensure that you get the best outcome for your case.