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21 June 2012
Well, today the first car was crushed under legislation directed at curbing boy racing. A couple of interesting points.
First, media report that the vehicle was destroyed because the driver “has now reached his fourth strike after being found guilty of driving while suspended, sustained loss of traction and dangerous driving, and disqualified from driving for 21 months, and is awaiting sentencing on his fourth offence”. One can only hope that the media have misreported the type of offences. The power to destroy a car applies to a third conviction for offences involving unnecessary exhibition of speed, pouring fluid on a road and sustained loss of traction. Only one of the four offences reported in the media qualify under the car crushing legislation. Has the car be destroyed unlawfully?
Second, how is it a proper part of the role of the Minister of Police to gloat and grandstand over the destruction of the car? Whatever the young man in question had done, he has or will be dealt with by the courts. In our view it is not appropriate for government Ministers and the media to publicly humiliate the young man in the way that occurred on national television. Sure, cover the event but there was no need for the young man to be named.
Third, the car crushing legislation seems to be a pretty blunt tool and we wonder whether it is going to help or hinder road safety. Plenty of young men have done the odd “burn-out” in their time. In itself, loss of traction or fast acceleration is not dangerous. It’s a matter of fact and degree. Hopefully the courts will recognise this when exercising discretion whether to order the destruction of a car. A young person’s car is a massive investment for him or her. In our opinion destruction should not be ordered lightly. If there is not leniency in this area we may well find young men trying to do “runners” from Police to avoid the risk of destruction of their cars. It also seems daft to destroy a $9,000.00 car. Why not confiscate and sell it, and put the proceeds towards road safety – or even better still give the courts the power to order part of the proceeds to go to a fund with the remainder to the car owner, to recognise the different value of cars and the different degree of culpability in offending.