Suspend, seize, sentence: The new penalties for dangerous drivers in the ACT

Motorists in the nation’s capital now face harsher penalties if they’re charged with high-range speeding or dangerous driving.

On May 25, the Australian Capital Territory Government passed new laws in a bid to reduce dangerous driving in the region, and provide police with the power to get recidivist motorists off local roads.

Three key changes were made as part of the Road Safety Legislation Amendment Act 2024, which was passed by the Legislative Assembly and is now in force.

Motorists who exceed the posted speed limit by more than 45km/h will now be issued with an immediate licence suspension, while police can now seize and impound their vehicles for 30, 60 or 90 days.

At present, the maximum fine for exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or above is $1841 and six demerit points, however this climbs to $2136 in school zones.

Canberra and Jervis Bay motorists who repeatedly engage in street racing and hooning behaviour – such as drifting, donuts and burnouts – now also face court-imposed penalties of up to $16,000 or a 12-month prison sentence.

These new penalties bring the territory closer in line with New South Wales, where reckless or furious driving carries a maximum $2200 fine and nine-month prison term for first-time offenders, or $3300 and 12 months for repeat offenders.

It hasn’t gone as far as Queensland though, which gives police the power to charge people who spectate at organised hoon events, with fines of up to $6000.

Both the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales don’t have the ability to crush impounded and forfeited cars though, with only Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory handing out that punishment.

The ACT Government says it’ll also “roll out a community education and awareness campaign focused on dangerous driving later this year”.

“The campaign will highlight the zero tolerance stand on dangerous driving and make the community aware of the potential penalties they will face,” it says.

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