The Return of Stationary Random Breath Tests and Road Side Drug Tests in NSW

By Poppy Morandin & Jimmy Singh

 

In anticipation of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, NSW Police announced the return of stationary Random Breath Tests and Roadside Drug Tests.

As the easing of restrictions have allowed for a higher level of unrestricted movement and, pubs, clubs and restaurants are now allowed to seat up to 50 patrons, traffic has increased.

“With the easing of restrictions on travel and going out to support restaurants and pubs ahead of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, the community is understandably itching to return to some form of normalcy,” said Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott.

“Irresponsible or reckless behaviour that endangers others will not be tolerated – there’s no excuse for not abiding by the road rules. The community has already been through enough already – we’ve had enough trauma.”

In March, the spread of COVID-19 led to a significant reduction in RBTs and RDTs in order to reduce the risk posed to officers and the community.

The measure inspired concern in road safety experts, especially due to the publicised nature of the announcement, in that it had the potential to lead to a rise in alcohol related road accidents causing death or injury.

While fortunately this did not occur, concerns of a spike in accidents have again occurred as we approach the first long weekend since restrictions have eased.

“There is no excuse to get behind the wheel and flagrantly flout the law. The road rules have not changed, and we make no apologies for stopping selfish road users whose irresponsible driving put themselves and others at risk.” said Michael Corboy, Assistant Commissioner and, Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander.

Recently, a Penhurst man has been charged with high-range drink driving after blowing seven times over the legal limit, with the accused purportedly falling asleep at the wheel before being pulled over by police.

He has since had his license suspended and is due to face court late July after being granted bail. High-range drink driving carries a maximum of 18-months jail or $3,300 fine, or both (in addition to a criminal conviction). The only exception to this is if the court grants a section 10 order non-conviction penalty, even after pleading guilty.

The Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) authorises police officers to randomly stop motorists to conduct breath tests.

If police stop your vehicle for the purposes of a random breath test, you are required to provide them with your driver’s licence, noting this contains your name and address.

Refusing a breath test from the portable roadside device carries a maximum penalty of a $1,100 fine. It does not attract a disqualification period.

If the portable device indicates you have alcohol in your system, police may arrest you for the purposes of undertaking further breath analysis.

Refusing to provide a breath analysis, which refers to process usually performed at the nearby ‘booze bus’ or police station, carries applicable penalties that are the same as for high-range drink driving.

As the machine that performs breath analysis is more sophisticated and accurate than the portable device used to carry out roadside tests, the results can be used in court as evidence to support a drink driving charge.

The level of blood alcohol content found will be used to determine the severity of the offence, depending on the range it is categorised by.

A defence is provided if, on medical grounds, a person is unable to submit a test or analysis in that it may affect their condition.

Other situations include when it has been at least two hours since you were driving, were not driving at the time or when you have reached your residence, with police then unable to conduct the test.

Click here for an outline on your rights as a driver if pulled over by police for RBT.

Have a question on drink driving or drug driving laws? Contact our drink driving lawyers Sydney based today for a free consultation.

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