A fringe group is currently calling for Australians to deflate the tyres of SUVs as part of a climate action protest.
As it turns out, anyone caught doing that in Victoria faces a pretty hefty penalty. According to section 70 of the Road Safety Act 1986 in Victoria, if a person who, without just cause or excuse, tampers or interferes with a motor vehicle own by any other person is guilty of an offence.
Examples of this as defined by a Melbourne-based specialist criminal lawyers practice include deflating the tyres of someone’s car without consent, tampering with the brakes on a person’s car without consent, and tampering with the locks on a person’s car without consent.
The maximum penalty for this offence in Victoria is two penalty units or imprisonment for 14 days. The current penalty units rate is $184.92, meaning this offensive carries a maximum fine of $369.84.
The penalty rate is set to go up to $192.31 from July 1 this year, meaning this offensive will soon carry a maximum fine of $384.62.
In addition, if the person holds a driver licence or learner permit, the Victorian Court may cancel or disqualify the person from obtaining one for a period not exceeding four years.
As previously reported, the Tyre Extinguishers, which originated in Europe last year, is a “leaderless, autonomous movement of groups” that is deflating tyres on “massive and unnecessary vehicles” in order to cause inconvenience to their owners.
The fringe group frequently posts photos of SUVs with deflated tyres on Twitter. It has a step-by-step guide on its website, as well as a flyer that can be printed out and left on victimised vehicles.
The Tyre Extinguishers recently put a call out saying it needs people in Melbourne and wants to “get the party started there”.
This particular statement was in response to a Twitter user posting a photo of a Ram 1500 pickup protruding from a parking space into a bike lane.
When approached by news.com.au, the Tyre Extinguishers said the group has been faced with “no legal issues”, and then Australia is its “next big target”.
“It’s very hard to get caught doing this, unless SUV owners are going to stay up all night, every night defending their vehicle in the off chance we appear,” said a spokesperson to news.com.au.
“If someone is caught, there’s a debate about whether what we are doing is even illegal. In the UK, police forces are divided about whether it’s a crime to let the air out of a tyre or not.
“It may not even meet the threshold for criminal damage.”