The Land Transport Act 1998 36A describes a number of antisocial vehicle-related activities which attract fines or other penalties. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are behind the wheel – you could be an ex-F1 driver and still be prosecuted. The offences come under general descriptions such as street racing, cruising, burnouts and drifting.
In general, if you drive within the road rules, you will not be prosecuted. There are categories where you will attract the attention of police:
- Racing your car on the road – this includes drag races, rally-style time trials, and point-to-point races.
- Unnecessary displays of speed or acceleration – this includes 0-100km/h test runs, top speed runs, and using speed dangerously or inappropriately
- Sustained loss of traction – this includes burnouts and drifting. Also bear in mind that a gravel road is not an excuse for wheelspin. Inadvertent wheelspin (‘chirping’ the tyres off the line) is not considered to be ‘sustained’; police will consider the driver’s intent.
- Pouring petrol, oil, diesel or other substances designed to reduce traction onto the road.
What are the fines and penalties?
For street racing and sustained loss of traction, you can be jailed up to three months or fined up to $4500, plus you’ll be automatically disqualified for at least six months.
You can be jailed up to five years if someone is injured, and up to ten years if someone is killed. There’s an automatic disqualification of one year and you can be fined up to $20,000.
If you pour substances on the road, the fine is up to $3000.
Police will automatically impound your vehicle for 28 days for some of these offences.
When are you permitted to drift or do burnouts on the road?
If the transport agency agrees, a road may be able to be closed to allow for racing or demonstrations. This is done for things like rally stages or when Mad Mike drifted the Crown Range in Queenstown.