Hoon drivers in chases could face three years' jail

HOON drivers who engage police in a pursuit would face three years' jail under a proposed law.

But RMIT University adjunct professor Peter Norden said the idea that drivers who start pursuits could be persuaded to stop because they faced jail was fanciful.

He said: ''.It's not normal drivers like you or I that are involved in pursuits, it's often people who are alcohol or drug-affected.''

While other states have changed their laws to prevent police from starting pursuits, the Baillieu government is intent on curbing the practice by punishing hoons more severely. The Police Association, which suggested the changes, lauded the government for acting to reduce chase deaths.

A report released in May found more than 30 people had been killed in police chases in Victoria since 2002, including six deaths in a 12-month period starting in July last year.

Premier Ted Baillieu said the changes, which also include a mandatory minimum 12-month licence disqualification, would save lives.

''The community has been concerned, police have been concerned, and police have identified a gap in the legislation and we will fill that gap,'' he said. ''This is not about reality-TV shows, this is about life and death, and supporting police in what they have to do.''

Victorian Police Minister Peter Ryan said the penalties were substantial and would deter hoons.

There were 545 police pursuits in 2002, and 721 last year. Pursuit numbers are on track to increase again in 2012.

''We need to address this issue because it is just untenable that police are placed in this invidious position,'' Mr Ryan said. ''You cannot be having people breaking the law with impunity and doing a runner and expecting they can just get away with it.''

Assistant Commissioner (Traffic) Robert Hill said police were constantly reviewing pursuit protocol and did not feel that restricting the type of crimes that could lead to a chase would work.

This story Hoon drivers in chases could face three years' jail first appeared on The Age.