More tools to help Police deal with fleeing drivers

  • Increase the maximum driver licence disqualification period for a second offence of failing to stop or remain stopped, from 12 months to between 12 months and 24 months;
  • Amend the Sentencing Act 2002 so that a vehicle can be forfeited on conviction for failing to stop. Offenders could have their vehicle permanently removed, and would not get any proceeds from the sale back; and
  • Allow Police to impound a vehicle for 28 days if the owner fails, refuses, or provides false or misleading information about the identity of a driver from a fleeing driver event.

The Government is changing the law to give Police greater enforcement tools when dealing with dangerous and reckless driving on our roads, Ministers Chris Hipkins and Kiri Allan announced today.

The changes mean drivers can be disqualified for longer, have their vehicle taken away for good, or the owner of the car could have their vehicle impounded if they choose not to help Police track down the driver of a fleeing vehicle.

“These changes will help Police deal with the sort of behaviour that can lead to death and injury on our roads. It’s never okay to flee from Police and put others’ lives at risk,” Police Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“Police have told us these changes will help discourage people from fleeing, because they’re now likely to lose the vehicle for longer or for good. It also removes the protection currently afforded to the owners of the vehicle if the offender is driving someone else’s car.”

Police have this week announced an update to their operational framework for front-line decision-making around fleeing drivers.

Justice Minister Kiri Allan said the Government is committed to ensuring we bring down deaths and injury on the roads, with practical changes through legislation.

“While no law can ever stop an offender from choosing to flee, evidence indicates that the changes most likely to influence offender behaviour are those that create a greater likelihood of getting caught and then losing access to their vehicle,” Kiri Allan said.

“Put simply, if you choose to flee from Police then be prepared to lose your car.”

“There is a safeguard for law-abiding vehicle owners who can prove their car was stolen at the time it was impounded – appeal provisions will be built in so that the vehicle can be released.”

Notes for editors

These changes build on the Criminal Activity Intervention Legislation Bill, which is currently before Select Committee. That Bill:

  • Expands the range of offences where police can seize and impound cars, motorbikes and other vehicles. It means Police can seize and impound vehicles for 28 days when they have reasonable grounds to believe the vehicle was used to drive dangerously or recklessly, where there is no injury or death, or was driven with aggravated carelessness causing injury or death.
  • Creates a new offence of discharging a gun with intent to intimidate, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison
  • Enables targeted warrant and additional search powers so Police can search for, find and seize weapons from gang members during a gang conflict
  • Gives Police and other enforcement agencies the ability to seize cash over $10,000 when found in suspicious circumstances; and
  • Creates a prohibition on cash sales of watches, jewellery, precious metals and stones, motor vehicles and boats over a specified value (value to be set in Regulations).