Racers taught lesson in court

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 20/01/2014

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Five cars have been confiscated and more than 160 Palmerston North "boy racers" convicted since laws aimed at stamping out illegal street racing were introduced.

Ministry of Justice figures show that between December 1, 2009 and June 30, 2013, 161 people in Palmerston North were convicted of an offence under the illegal street racing, or "boy racer", legislation.

The four illegal street racing offences are: racing, or exhibition of speed or acceleration, sustained loss of traction, unnecessary acceleration or speeding causing injury or death, and sustained loss of traction causing injury or death.

The figures show that a first-time conviction was enough for many of those caught in Palmerston North, with 156 people gaining one conviction under the street racing laws, and just four of those going on to be caught reoffending.

When convicted, a judge has discretion to confiscate and sell the vehicle involved, as five offenders from Palmerston North found out.

Proceeds from the sale go toward the cost of the sale, paying off any security interests, fines or reparation, and if there is any left over, the rest goes back to the offender.

But, if a person is convicted three times within three years, the judge has the power to confiscate and destroy the vehicle.

In Palmerston North, only one person has met that threshold, but it is unclear whether the vehicle involved was destroyed or sold.

Palmerston North traffic unit Constable Mike Linton said the majority of drivers in modified or "boy racer" vehicles were car enthusiasts who took good care of their cars, and ensured they were fully registered and licensed.

They were aware of the laws, and given the time and money they spent on their cars, it would be a waste for them to run the risk of having them confiscated or possibly destroyed, he said.

There was, however, a small number who ruined it for the rest, he said. They tended to be under the age of 30, but were not necessarily youths.

Their night of choice was usually a Friday or a Saturday.

There were groups of such car enthusiasts who travelled some distance around the lower North Island, organising a "meet" in a different town once a month or so.

Most were pretty good to deal with, and just cruised, he said.

Feilding had 22 convictions under the law, Levin 35, Marton 12, Taihape six and Dannevirke eight.

Nationally, 5002 people have been convicted since the law was introduced in 2009, and 95 people have had their vehicles confiscated.

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- Manawatu Standard

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