On Queensland roads, we are well aware that police have the power to stop and request a random breath/saliva test in order to determine whether a person was driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Queensland legislation also gives police the power to conduct blood tests in certain circumstances to conclusively determine whether a person was driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Failing to comply with a police order by refusing a blood test in Queensland may result in loss of licence for a period of time, a fine or even imprisonment.
All matters relating to the testing of individuals suspected of driving under the influence is covered in the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995. Under this Act, a person may be required to provide a sample of blood in limited circumstances including;
- If the person appears to be affected by a substance including drugs and alcohol.
- If the person refuses, or does not give a sufficient saliva/breath sample.
- If the breath/saliva machine malfunctions or does not show a reading.
- If the person provides a medical certificate explaining their inability to provide a breath or saliva sample.
- If the person has been arrested for any indictable offence that is connected to the driving of a vehicle.
Once requested to provide a blood sample, the test may be completed at a police station, hospital or other health care facility. It is typical for two samples to be taken at the time of testing. This allows the offender to have their own sample individually tested. It is important to note however, that you cannot be subjected to a test if a certain period of time has passed. In Queensland, police can only test for blood alcohol concentration if the blood sample is taken within three hours of the incident. This time varies from state to state.
Refusing a blood test requested by a police officer may attract a severe penalty, as any person who refuses to provide a blood sample will be considered guilty of the offence of driving under the influence. In that case, the alleged offender will be liable to the same penalty as they would be if the offence were actually committed. This includes a licence disqualification. Typically, a person who fails to provide a blood specimen upon request will have their licence suspended immediately until the matter has been finalised by the courts.
Under the Act, there are many ways that you can be charged when refusing to provide a blood sample. For example, a person who obstructs a nurse or doctor when taking a blood specimen from another person may be liable for a fine of up to $4,500. Further, if an alleged offender drives whilst suspended for failing to provide a sample they may face a fine of up to $1,500 or imprisonment.
As stated above, if an alleged offender refuses to provide a blood sample, they will be taken to have committed the crime of driving under the influence. For a first time DUI offender in Queensland, the penalty may involve a fine of over $3,000 or imprisonment of 9 months. A second time offender (within 5 years) may receive a fine of over $6,000 or imprisonment of 18 months. The court, having regard to the context of the case, will determine the penalty imposed for any subsequent offences. It is important to note that you will also be disqualified from driving.
An alleged offender will not be held liable for failing to produce a blood sample if the request was not lawfully made. Similarly, the alleged offender will not be guilty of an offence if they were legitimately incapable of providing the specimen. A medical certificate can be provided that clearly outlines the alleged offender’s inability to provide a blood sample.