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A hoon in a Holden VL Commodore performing a burnout Palmyra Dragway, Mackay, Queensland

A hoon is an Australian term describing a person who deliberately drives a vehicle in a reckless or dangerous manner, generally in order to provoke a reaction from onlookers.

Hoon activities (or hooning) can include speeding, burnouts, doughnuts, or screeching tyres.[1] Those commonly identified as being involved in hooning are young and predominantly male drivers in the age range of 17 to 25 years.[2]

Hoon control laws are beginning to be extended to dangerous hoon behaviour using boats and other vessels, particularly jet skis. The Australian state of Victoria passed legislation in late 2009 to control hoon activities using recreational vessels.[3]


At the turn of the 20th century in Australia, the term hoon (and its rhyming slang version "silver spoon")[4] had a different meaning: one who lived off immoral earnings (i.e., the proceeds of prostitution, as a pimp or procurer of prostitutes).[5]

Linguist Sid Baker in his book The Australian Language suggested that hoon (meaning "a fool") was a contraction of Houyhnhnm, a fictional race of intelligent horses which appears in Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.[4][6]

Hoon, when used in relation to people in motor vehicles (or associated with car culture), may be onomatopoeia.[citation needed] One may speak of a car, or its driver, or its occupants in general as "hooning down the road".[7]

Anti-hoon legislation in Australia[edit]

The term hoon has obtained a semi-official use in Australia, with police and governments referring to legislation targeting anti-social driving activity as "anti-hoon laws". The term has even begun to appear in the titles of legislation, e.g. Victoria's Transport Legislation Amendment (Hoon Boating and Other Amendments) Act 2009.

In Western Australia, the Road Traffic Amendment (Impounding and Confiscation of Vehicles) Bill 2004,[8] which was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in June 2004, empowered the Western Australia Police to confiscate and impound vehicles found to be engaging in excessive speed or noise.[9] The law was used to impound a Lamborghini after a mechanic was caught speeding in it; he had been driving without the owner's knowledge. The police claim that the law does not permit them to release the car under the only legal course of action available to the owner, that of "hardship". The police retorted that, having the means to own it, "he can afford to hire a vehicle."[10] The owner complained that the law amounted to "mandatory sentencing without trial".[11] The Western Australian Police Minister, Rob Johnston, "admits the laws are unfair but says he stands by them".[12] Former Western Australia District Court Chief Judge Antoinette Kennedy described the minister's reaction as "the politics of envy".[13] After all hoon-related offences, the defendant's licence is cancelled and experience accumulated on it is returned to zero.

In the state of Victoria, hoon-related offences include burnouts, doughnuts, drag racing, repeated driving while disqualified and high-level speeding were added to Section 84C of the Road Safety Act 1986 in July 2006. Victoria Police have impounded an average of ten cars a day under the laws,[14] with over 5,000 vehicles confiscated and impounded two years after their introduction.[15] By contrast, the hoon boating laws of Victoria currently centre on offences involving dangerous behaviour and do not yet reference offences relating to public order or amenity.[16]

In Queensland, the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 allows members of the Queensland Police to impound the vehicles involved in prescribed offences.[17] The laws relating to confiscation of vehicles for offences such as street racing, time trials and burnouts were strengthened in 2002. Further laws introduced in July 2008 provided for the confiscation of vehicles for repeat offenders involved with drunk driving, driving while suspended or driving with illegal modifications.

The maximum penalty for hooning in Queensland is $4,712 or six months imprisonment.[18] Repeat offenders can lose their vehicle for 48 hours for the first repeat offence, up to three months for a second repeat offence, or permanently for a third repeat offence. On 11 August 2008, a number of confiscated vehicles were auctioned by the government; the remainder were crushed and sold as scrap metal.[19]

In New South Wales, the word hoon is actually contained in the name of the legislation – the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Car Hoons) Act 2008 enacted in July 2008 – which introduced new measures against street racing and increased fines. Previous legislation provided only for the vehicles of repeat offenders to be forfeited to the Crown, but the Car Hoons Act allowed for them to be used in crash testing by Transport for NSW, for educational and deterrence purposes, and roadworthiness testing in the context of modifications.[20]

In South Australia, the relevant legislation is the Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding And Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007.[21] The legislation, amended in December 2009,[22] directs that, upon conviction for a 'prescribed offence'[23] the motor vehicle be forfeited to the Crown; the Police Commissioner then has discretion to sell or otherwise dispose of it, i.e. crush it.[24] At the end of 2010, 62 cars had been impounded by the courts. None were worth more than $1600 and many were not capable of reaching 150 km/h.[25]

In Tasmania, police officers have the power to confiscate and clamp motor vehicles where drivers commit certain types of "hooning" offences. These powers are contained in the Police Offences Act 1935 and the Traffic Act 1925. The "hooning" offences to which they apply include unlawful entry on land with a motor vehicle, failing to comply with a direction to leave a public place, "hooning" behaviour such as causing a loss of traction in your wheels or creating unnecessary noise, recklessly or negligently driving, holding a race without a permit, evading police, driving over 45 km/h over the speed limit and driving whilst disqualified.

It is an offence to commit certain types of "hooning" behaviour, including operating a motor vehicle in a way that deliberately creates unnecessary noise or smoke, unnecessarily accelerating or causing a loss of traction (for example, by doing burnouts or drag racing) or racing against another vehicle. This offence is contained in the Police Offences Act 1935. The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 penalty units (i.e. $2,800), 3 months’ imprisonment or both. Also, a court may order that the offender be disqualified from driving for a maximum period of 2 years.

Hoon crime groups and gatherings[edit]

Since the 2010s there has been a rise in hoon gatherings with hoon crime rings in relation to criminal activity uploading their images and videos on social media. The names of these hoon criminal groups include the "Black Bandit" in Victoria and the "Mexican Hoon Cartel" in Queensland.[26][27][28][29]

Notable usages[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hoon Driving, Darebin City Council, 7 August 2008.
  2. ^ Armstrong, Kerry; Steinhardt, Dale: Understanding 'hoon' culture: An exploratory investigation of perceptions and experiences, 2006. Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (Queensland University of Technology).
  3. ^ See the Transport Legislation Amendment (Hoon Boating and Other Amendments) Act 2009.
  4. ^ a b Simes, Gary (1993). A Dictionary of Australian Underworld Slang. UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553499-9.
  5. ^ Perkins, Roberts (1991). Working girls : prostitutes, their life and social control. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. ISBN 0-642-15877-0.
  6. ^ Richards, Kel: Hoon, ABC NewsRadio, 2008.
  7. ^ "Google Search".
  8. ^ Road Traffic Amendment (Impounding and Confiscation of Vehicles) Bill 2004, Parliament of Western Australia, 23 June 2004.
  9. ^ Ministerial Media Statements: Anti-hoon laws pass through Parliament Archived 11 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Government of Western Australia, 17 June 2004.
  10. ^ "GP loses Lamborghini thanks to hoon mechanic". Brisbane Times. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  11. ^ . Herald Sun. 7 January 2010 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/lamborghini-impounded-under-hoon-laws/story-e6frf7l6-1225817120600. Retrieved 26 July 2011. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "ABC Online". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Chief Judge Kennedy hangs up her robes". ABC News. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  14. ^ Hoon Laws, Victoria Police, 29 July 2008.
  15. ^ Thousands caught under tough anti hoon laws, Department of Justice, Government of Victoria, July 2008.
  16. ^ See the Transport Legislation Amendment (Hoon Boating and Other Amendments) Act 2009 and its amendments to the Marine Act 1988.
  17. ^ Road Safety: Hoons, Queensland Police.
  18. ^ Sentencing fines and penalties for offences, Government of Queensland. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  19. ^ Qld hoon laws lead to big car auction, Australian Associated Press, 7 July 2008.
  20. ^ New penalties for street racing and burnout offences Archived 19 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Roads & Traffic Authority.
  21. ^ "Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding And Forfeiture Of Vehicles) Act 2007".
  22. ^ "Amendment December 2009".
  23. ^ "prescribed offence".
  24. ^ "crush it".
  25. ^ Kemp, Miles (28 December 2010). "South Australian crack down on powerful hoon cars only caught unmodified bombs". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  26. ^ Evans, Jessica (20 June 2013). "Gang of hoons egg each other on by filming their illegal stunts across Victoria". The Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  27. ^ "Teenage 'ringleaders' of petrolhead gang the 'Mexican Hoon Cartel' are arrested in dawn police raids – as the group vows to terrorise locals and 'tear up streets like the law doesn't exist'". PressFrom. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  28. ^ Crockford, Toby (15 August 2018). "Police charge teens over Gold Coast's Mexican Hoon Cartel". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  29. ^ McDonald, Matt, ed. (21 October 2020). "Alleged hoon ringleader's home raided by Gold Coast Police". MyGC. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  30. ^ Hough, Andrew (26 March 2010). "Lewis Hamilton: Formula 1 driver's Mercedes impounded by police in Melbourne". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  31. ^ "F1's Hamilton charged over 'loss of vehicle control'". BBC News Online. 23 May 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  32. ^ Cary, Tom (24 August 2010). "Lewis Hamilton fined after 'acting like a hoon' in Australia". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  33. ^ van Leeuwun, Andrew (18 June 2017). "Robby Gordon fined $4000 for Darwin burnout". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  34. ^ Howard, Tom (20 June 2017). "CAMS to deny Gordon future competition visa". Speedcafe. Retrieved 20 June 2017.