Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Boy racers avoiding the big crush

Police Minister Anne Tolley stands on Daniel Briant's Nissan, the first car to be crushed in New Zealand under boy-racer legislation. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Police Minister Anne Tolley stands on Daniel Briant's Nissan, the first car to be crushed in New Zealand under boy-racer legislation. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Almost 4000 convictions have been handed down for illegal street racing in the last three years but it seems most are learning their lesson, with only 127 convictions being racked up by repeat offenders.

Ministry of Justice figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show that since new legislation came into force in December 2009, 3902 people have been convicted of illegal street racing offences.

Of those, 122 went on to be convicted a second time, and five have notched three convictions.

The Land Transport (Enforcement Powers) Amendment Act and the Sentencing (Vehicle Confiscation) Amendment Act introduced a "three strikes" scheme, which empowered police to charge drivers and impound their vehicles for an "unnecessary exhibition of speed" or "sustained loss of traction".

It also allowed vehicles to be seized and destroyed if a driver committed street-racing offences three times.

So far, five people have reached three strikes, but only two vehicles have been confiscated and destroyed.

The figures show that the most boy-racer convictions were handed down at the Christchurch District Court, followed by Manukau, Tauranga, Hamilton, North Shore, Waitakere, Invercargill, Auckland, Nelson and Whangarei.

Of those convicted, 3766 were males with the majority in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups; 122 males were convicted on two occasions and five had three convictions.

There were 117 females convicted in total and of those just two had gone on to reoffend.

The oldest offenders were two males in the 60-64 age group who earned one conviction each.

District Courts general manager Tony Fisher said there were four illegal street racing offences a driver could be convicted on: operating a vehicle in a race or exhibition of speed or acceleration, operating a motor vehicle causing sustained loss of traction, also known as a "burn out", unnecessary exhibition of speed or acceleration causing death or injury and sustained loss of traction causing death or injury.

Mr Fisher said when a person was convicted of one or more of the offences, the court had the discretion to order the confiscation and sale of the vehicle.

Proceeds of the sale then went towards paying any amount owing on the vehicle and unpaid fines or reparation costs.

Any money left over after that was returned to the owner.

"As of 30 June 2012 the courts have ordered the confiscation of a vehicle in relation to illegal street racing offences on 94 occasions - which can be on the first or any subsequent conviction, and the confiscation and destruction of a vehicle on two occasions."

Police around the country are taking a zero-tolerance approach to boy racers, with many districts establishing dedicated boy racer teams targeting illegal street racing.

In November the Herald revealed that a new road crime unit on Auckland's North Shore had impounded 21 cars and prosecuted 26 drivers within its first month of operating.

PRIDE AND JOY DESTINED FOR SCRAP METAL YARD

Two teenagers learned the hard way about abusing their toys when the courts ordered the destruction of their beloved cars.

In December last year the first order was made in the Balclutha District Court to confiscate and crush a 1982 Toyota DX owned by Karn Clarrie Forrest, then 18.

The order came after Forrest earned his third conviction for driving a vehicle with a sustained loss of traction.

Forrest switched the Toyota for another car, which was seized and taken to a Dunedin scrap metal yard awaiting a final order to be crushed. Police were made aware of the switch and although they got the right car in April, it is understood paperwork is holding up its destruction.

Forrest was also sentenced to 150 hours of community work and was disqualified from driving for 13 months - from August 13 next year when his current disqualification ends.

In June, Paraparaumu teenager Daniel Briant's Nissan Laurel was crushed at a Wellington scrap metal yard. A destruction order was made after Briant racked up three convictions - driving while suspended, wheel spinning and dangerous driving.

Police Minister Anne Tolley was on hand to press the button which activated two 150-tonne presses which squashed Briant's car to just 30cm high in less than a minute.

"If you continue to break the law, you are going to pay the consequences," she said, standing on the crushed car afterwards.

NUMBERS

3766 men convicted, 3641 with one conviction, 120 with two convictions, 5 with three convictions
117 women convicted, 55 aged between 15-19, 115 with one conviction, 2 with two convictions
15-19 The most common age group for both men and women
94 vehicle confiscation orders made
2 vehicle destruction orders made

WHERE THEY WERE CAUGHT

Top 10 areas for convictions in District Courts (Dec 09-Jun 12).

*Christchurch 450
*Manukau 249
*Tauranga 185
*Hamilton 183
*North Shore 175
*Waitakere 170
*Invercargill 162
*Auckland 148
*Nelson 133
*Whangarei 125

Third strike offenders convicted in: Christchurch (2), Gore, North Shore, Porirua.

- NZ Herald

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