Wellington, May 26 NZPA - Street racing offences will bring boy racers' cars "closer to the crusher" if two new parliamentary bills are passed.
The Land Transport (Enforcement Powers) Amendment Bill and Vehicle Confiscation and Seizure Bill introduced today would give police, courts and local authorities greater powers to tackle street racing.
Prime Minister John Key said he made no apologies for the harsh consequences of the bills.
"This Government and the public have run out of patience with illegal street racers.
"As a last resort some people's vehicles could be crushed."
Police Minister Judith Collins said people who have three street racing related offences within four years could see their cars crushed.
"Every new offence will now bring them closer to the crusher. That is the message that we would like them to get."
Offenders and the owners of the cars would receive two written warnings before the cars were destroyed, Ms Collins said.
"This will give a great deal of comfort to finance companies who might therefore decide whether they want to continue lending funding for the activities that we've described."
It would also allow parents to know what their cars were being used for, she said.
Ms Collins acknowledged the work done by the previous government to tackle to subject and said the seizure bill was about "closing loop holes".
Confiscated cars were often sold to friends for a nominal amount to "avoid the full force of the law".
"Some of these cars, basically, will need to be crushed because if you think about it, who buys a boy racer car at an auction except another boy racer."
The bill also allowed for the vehicles of people with overdue traffic fines to be seized to pay the fines and for courts and police to target street racers who use other people's vehicles.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce said most street racing activities were already illegal but "the penalties, in many cases, are not respected by offenders".
The bill focused on driver licences and vehicles because they were the things most valued by the people involved, Mr Joyce said.
The bill has 17 measures including a "cruising" clause which allows local authorities to prevent people repeatedly driving down certain streets.
Cruising was "not just looking for a carpark" but required a driver to draw attention to the sound or power of the vehicle or to create a convoy.
Warning notices would be given on a first offence and the vehicle could be impounded on a second occasion, Mr Joyce said.
Other measures in the bill included noisy vehicles being ordered off the road for testing and the introduction of demerit points, and a reduction in fines, for certain offences.
The Government hopes to pass the bills into law by December 1.
Mr Key said the bills had support from ACT and the United Party to see them through the first reading to select committee stage where public consultation would take place.
Labour said it would support the bills through their first readings to the consultation stage.
But law and order spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said his initial response was that they were no more than window dressing.
"Current law allows courts to confiscate cars permanently now," he said.
"The Government concedes that confiscation is only happening now in about 2 percent of cases. What guarantee is there that courts will back up this legislation any more than they do current law?"
Mr Cosgrove, who introduced legislation against boy racers when he was a backbencher in 2002, said the courts didn't back it up and whole communities still suffered "misery caused by hoons".
The Automobile Association welcomed the Government's announcement.
"While the AA supports and respects the rights of New Zealanders to legally modify their vehicles and drive responsibly, there can be no place for anti-social behaviour and illegal street racing on our roads," said the association's general manager of motoring affairs, Mike Noon.
"It is a serious safety risk to pedestrians, other drivers and road users, and the police and emergency services."