Sunday, February 1, 2009

Confiscating hoon cars

In 2004 police in Western Australia, egged on by media-amplified public outrage, passed laws to confiscate so-called 'hoon cars'. Other states have followed Western Australia in order to deal with this social phenomenon that has become worse with the increasing number of high-performance sedans on the market. 'Hooning' is otherwise known as dangerous driving, which in most places is a criminal offence.
Hooning is undoubtedly dangerous, irresponsible and downright annoying in suburban areas late at night. But what most people forget is that seizure of private property without due process violates fundamental rights and freedoms established as far back as Magna Carta.
If we give the state the 'right' to seize private property without due process in courts we are in dangerous waters.
Policing of teenagers who drive dangerously should not require confiscation of cars, just due process in a court of law. Repeated offences should undoubtedly lead to jail terms.
However, foaming-at-the-mouth radio shock jocks and others now want to go further. Crush the hoon cars! So, private property is not only illegally confiscated by the state, it is wilfully destroyed - almost as an act of spite and vengeance. If I was to 'confiscate' someone's car and then destroy it I would face charges of theft and wilful damage. Why is it OK for the state, via the police, to do that?

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