A sensible change

September 3rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The AA will take a cautious look at a bill which closes a drink-driving loophole.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson’s Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill, drawn from the parliamentary ballot last week, would widen the circumstances where a positive evidential breath test is admissible evidence in drink-driving prosecutions.

Under current law, a positive breath test is not admissible in evidence if the suspect opts to have a blood test, but there have been a small number of cases where police were unable to get blood tests after suspects had chosen to have them, and had not been able to fall back on breath test results to prosecute.

Mr Simpson cited one 2005 case, where police had struggled with a suspect whose blood sample was gained only after several attempts.

I believe there is also a problem sometimes with drug addicts whose arms are so wrecked that finding a vein to draw blood from is near impossible.

So the law change is pretty simple – they can use the breath test as evidence, if it proves impossible to get a blood sample. Not sure anyone will be against that.

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8 Responses to “A sensible change”

  1. GPT1 (2,022 comments) says:

    In principle no but there are VERY rare circumstances where blood is lower. This is usually where the drinking has been fast, recent but not substantial. Eg: 3 standard drinks in an hour after work – blow 420 but blood is lower. It is rare (blood is the most accurate and usually higher as alcohol has absorbed into the system) but it does happen.

    It could be evidence for an impaired driver test though (which I think might be how the police deal with the situation now).

    Or if over, say, 500 then it is evidence.

    Or what if you choose to drink and drive and your arm won’t give blood then tough the breath result stands.

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  2. thomasbeagle (77 comments) says:

    It would have been nice if they’d given some indication of how accurate the breath tests were.

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  3. Grizz (613 comments) says:

    A quick poke of the femoral artery would have solved the problem in the scenario above.

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  4. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    Not sure anyone will be against that.

    Winston and Greens may be against it unless they are allowed to run another referendum to decide it.

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  5. PaulL (5,454 comments) says:

    Can you get another breath test if they can’t do the blood test? Just seems like the reason for the blood test is that breath tests are sometimes inaccurate – as GPT says, mostly if you’ve drunk a lot quite quickly. In that situation, by the time they’ve screwed around and failed to get blood, then you could do another breath test. That one would be binding.

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  6. Eisenhower (137 comments) says:

    They will have to amend the law so that evidential breath tests cannot be refused, although that could be problematic for those with breathing difficulties. Currently you can refuse any breath test, whether roadside screening or evidential. You cannot however refuse a blood test.
    A tip for those who may find themselves giving an evidential breat test – if it blows over 650 micrograms on the first blow (you have to do two and the lowest is the result) refuse to do the second blow and opt for a blood test. Otherwise your license will be suspended for a mandatory 28 days on the spot (the level is 400mcg if you’ve had a previous conviction in the last four years. Your vehicle will also be impounded if you’ve had two or more convictions).

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  7. Sean (290 comments) says:

    Sorry but the law says the sample must be of venous blood, so no poking the femoral artery…

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  8. Sean (290 comments) says:

    Oh and you can refuse a blood test – you just end up getting arrested and charged with refusing a blood test, the penalty for which is as if you failed the blood test – plus you get to spend some time in the cells…

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