THE number of hoon vehicles impounded in Ballarat has skyrocketed since the toughening up of anti-hoon laws in July 2011.
Police statistics obtained by The Courier reveal that between 2007 and 2010, the number of vehicles impounded varied between 38 and 51 per year in Ballarat.
But for the first nine months of 2012, 60 vehicles were impounded in Ballarat. No statistics were available after September last year.
The numbers come after a Mt Clear man had his car impounded on Monday after being caught performing burnouts by members of the public in Mt Helen.
The VE Commodore ute was impounded for 30 days.
Before July 1, 2011, vehicles were only impounded for 48 hours.
Police say the changes have had a noticeable effect on hoon behaviour in Ballarat.
Ballarat Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Pat Cleary said there were now more proscribed offences for which drivers could lose their vehicles, which may have contributed to the increase in vehicle impoundments.
He said there was also an increased focus on problem drivers.
“Police efforts are directed towards repeat drink-drivers and repeat disqualified drivers,” he said.
“We are targeting these recidivist offenders who continually break the rules.”
Senior Sergeant Cleary said losing their vehicle for 30 days provided a significant deterrent for hoons, but said it wasn’t the only consequence of poor driver behaviour.
“The 30 days is a good deterrent and we can see it’s having an effect,” he said.
“But there’s also the towing costs for those vehicles, which can be in excess of $1200.”
Anti-hoon laws were introduced in Victoria in July 2006 to give police the power to impound, immobilise or permanently confiscate vehicles driven by people in a dangerous manner.
From July 1, 2011, the laws were strengthened to provide that if police have reasonable grounds for believing a driver has committed a hoon-related offence, they have the power to seize that vehicle and impound or immobilise it for 30 days (increased from 48 hours).
Anyone with information on hoon behaviour in Ballarat can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.