Victoria police rammers to go to the slammer
Being a police car rammer could get you up to 20 years in the slammer under new Victorian laws, but the measures are unnecessary says a top legal group.
The anti-ramming laws come into effect from Thursday, including a minimum two-year jail term and a maximum of 20 years in prison.
"This is tough legislation, it's in response to the behaviour of too many offenders who have put the lives of police officers at risk using their vehicles, often stolen vehicles," Police Minister Lisa Neville said.
The laws will affect anyone who drives a car at a police or an emergency services vehicle, or drives a vehicle at an officer.
Only 'special circumstances' can alter the mandatory terms and there will also be a presumption against bail in these cases.
The new laws have the backing of Victoria Police and the Police Association.
However, the Law Institute of Victoria insist the laws are unnecessary, heavy handed, and won't deter offenders.
"Adequate laws already exist which deal with ramming police vehicles," an institute spokesman said.
Alleged offenders would have previously been charged with dangerous conduct, causing injury, dangerous driving or negligent driving, according to the institute.
Typically people who rammed cars would be substance-affected with a limited ability for clear thinking, the spokesman noted.
NEW DRIVING LAWS:
* Intentionally exposing an emergency worker, a custodial officer or a youth justice worker to risk by driving (20 years' maximum imprisonment)
* Recklessly exposing an emergency worker, a custodial officer or a youth justice worker to risk by driving (10 years' maximum imprisonment)
* Damaging an emergency service vehicle (five years' maximum imprisonment)
* Aggravated offences of intentionally or recklessly exposing an emergency worker to risk by driving (20 and 10 years' maximum imprisonment respectively).
Source: Victorian government