By CHARLENE MACAULAY
POLICE are clamping down on hoon drivers in a new pilot program that will see cars impounded at residential addresses.
The six-month trial will see specially trained Highway Patrol officers determine whether a hoon driver can have their vehicle immobilised by wheel clamps or steering locks at a private address instead of having the car taken to an impound facility.
The pilot is being undertaken to determine if immobilisation is a viable, effective and sustainable alternative to impoundment, and will complement the current impoundment program already in place across metropolitan Melbourne.
The initiative will run until 30 September.
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said Victoria Police had always had the power to immobilise a vehicle under the Road Safety Act 1986, however recent legislative changes made it possible to outsource immobilisation to contractors.
“Victoria Police impounded around 4600 vehicles last year and we are projecting a similar number of impounds this year,” he said.
“This pilot will determine what the benefits are to the community and the police.
“We believe immobilisation will reduce our vehicle storage costs, but more importantly, it will alleviate officers having to wait around for tow trucks and get them back on the road.
“A sticker will be placed on the vehicle outlining the fines associated with tampering with the immobilisation device or unauthorised relocation of the vehicle.
Hooning includes anti-social road behaviour, including excessive speeding, repeat drink driving or disqualified driving.
Since July 2011, police have had the power to seize a vehicle involved in hooning and impound or immobilise it for 30 days.
If a driver is found guilty of three hoon-related offences inside three years, their vehicle can be permanently forfeited by the court.