16 May 2023

Government introduces new fleeing driver penalties legislation

5:37 pm on 16 May 2023
Ginny Andersen

Police Minister Ginny Andersen Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Drivers who are convicted after fleeing police could have their car taken off them for good under new legislation introduced to Parliament.

The government introduced the Land Transport (Road Safety) Amendment Bill on Tuesday afternoon to allow police to impound a vehicle for up to six months if it failed to stop.

If the driver was later convicted, judges would have the power to order their vehicle forfeited altogether.

Repeat offenders could also have their license disqualified for up to two years, twice the current one-year limit.

Drivers who failed to provide information about a fleeing driver could also have their vehicle impounded if doing so was necessary to prevent a threat to road safety.

Justice Minister Kiri Allan said dangerous and reckless drivers needed to be held to account.

"We're ensuring there are increased and serious consequences for this behaviour. These new tools make it clear that drivers, vehicle owners or people obstructing police's work will face serious consequences."

She said when offenders were driving someone else's car, the owner would no longer be protected.

"This is really just about saying, look, if you're going to try to flee from the police in any circumstances if the car's yours, we'll take it, that'll be forfeited.

"If it's not yours and it might be mum's or dad's or anybody else's and they try to cover up or assist you there are penalties that can be put in place for them."

She said those who could prove their car was stolen at the time it was impounded would be able to get it back.

Police Minister Ginny Andersen said it combined with police's new framework for deciding when to pursue to send a strong, clear warning to fleeing drivers.

"You are now more likely to be caught and face the consequences.

"We are giving police the resources, the legislation, and the tools to keep these dangerous drivers off our roads."

The government intends to pass the legislation in full before the election in October. It also follows separate legislation passed in March which expanded the range of offences under which police could seize vehicles.

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