Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 March 2016) . . Page.. 791 ..
Turning back to the bill, it makes a number of amendments to the road transport legislation and establishes a new offence for failing to stop for police—section 5C of the Road Transport Act 1999—with a maximum penalty for the offence for a first offender of 100 penalty units, 12 months’ imprisonment, or both. For a repeat offender, the penalty is increased to 300 penalty units, three years’ imprisonment or both. It amends the maximum penalty for the existing aggravated offence of furious, reckless or dangerous driving, and the maximum penalty is increased from two years’ imprisonment and 200 penalty units to a maximum of three years’ imprisonment or 300 penalty units. The aggravating factor is that a person failed to comply with a request or a signal from the police to stop the vehicle. For a repeat offender the new penalty is five years’ imprisonment or 500 penalty units.
The bill applies the existing licence suspension and disqualification provisions in the road transport legislation to the new offence. A police officer who believes on reasonable ground that a person has committed the offence must give the person an immediate suspension notice. This notice suspends the person’s right to drive for 90 days until stayed by a court or the case is determined, whichever is earlier. The offence will be an automatic licence disqualification offence on conviction. This would see the licence of a person convicted of the offence automatically disqualified for at least three months for a first offender and 12 months for a repeat offender
The bill applies existing vehicle seizure and impoundment provisions in the road transport legislation to the new offence. Once a police officer believes on reasonable grounds that a particular vehicle was used in an alleged offence of failing to stop for police, the police officer will be able to seize the motor vehicle or, alternatively, issue a surrender notice for the vehicle. The vehicle seized may be kept for three months or until a court considers the matter, whichever occurs first. The legislation gives the police officer the power to enter private property without the permission of the owner-occupier for the sole purpose of seizing a vehicle under the vehicle seizure provisions.
The bill increases the penalty for the offence of failing to provide information to a police officer about the driver of a vehicle when that request relates to the investigation of an offence under new section 5C of failing to stop for a police vehicle. The maximum penalty in those circumstances will be increased to match the maximum penalty applying to the new offence of failing to stop for a police officer. In addition, the offence when committed in the context of an investigation into a vehicle failing to stop will trigger the licence suspension and disqualification provisions in the road transport legislation.
The ACT Law Society has been asked if they have a comment on this bill, as have the bar. We have not received any comments. The scrutiny committee’s report 42 drew a number of additional matters to the attention of the Assembly but it did not call on the minister to respond.
As I said, I will be supporting the legislation. I have spoken to the AFPA over a period of years in actual fact, and I have been aware that they had the desire for their members to have a specific offence with significant penalties as a response. I think