Tasmania has declared war on hooning drivers and is prepared to throw the book at offenders, who now face up to 21 years in jail, in an effort to crack down on dangerous driving.

In announcing the legislative change for a dangerous driving offence from the Traffic Act 1925 to the Criminal Code Act 1924, a statement from Tasmania’s Acting Attorney-General Matthew Groom, read, “Dangerous driving is a scourge that can result in lives being lost and families being torn apart, and these strong laws will send the right message that it will not be tolerated on our roads.”

The change in legislation means the maximum penalty for dangerous driving, even if it’s a first offence, could land offenders in jail for 21 years. This is up from the two years’ maximum previously available to magistrates and judges in determining sentencing.

Additionally, the charge of dangerous driving will become an indictable offence, meaning it will be heard in Tasmania’s Supreme Court, reflecting the gravity of the offence.

Additional legislation passed by Tasmania’s Parliament last week includes:

  • increase the maximum sentences applicable where an individual is found guilty of negligent driving causing death by one year
  • increase the maximum sentences applicable where an individual is found guilty of negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm by six months
  • allow alternative convictions for negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm where an offender is charged with dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm and the offence is not proved, provided there is sufficient evidence to prove the alternative offence

The Attorney-General’s statement stressed the Government’s commitment to “keeping dangerous offenders off our streets and keeping Tasmanians safe”.