The Road Safety Act 1986 in Victoria sets out the provisions in relation to drink driving offences. More specifically, the Road Safety (General) Regulations 2009 outline matters that involve breath, saliva or blood testing and the penalties that may be imposed if requests for this type of testing are refused.
Under the Victorian legislative scheme, police have the power to request any of these tests in certain circumstances, in order to determine whether an alleged offender is driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Refusing a blood test in Victoria is a serious offence and depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, various penalties may be imposed.
In Victoria, police are able to request that a blood sample be taken from any driver that is involved in a road incident and is over the age of 15 years. A sample may also be requested from a person who is either unable to provide a breath/saliva sample or a reading could not be obtained. Typically however, a blood alcohol test will be requested if the police officer believes a substance is influencing the alleged offender’s ability to drive.
The blood test itself is taken by a syringe from the arm by a doctor or nurse and is distributed amongst three containers. Two remain to be tested at the hospital or health facility, and one is given to the person who supplied the sample. This gives the alleged offender a chance to have their sample tested independently if they decide to do so.
Refusing a blood test under Victorian law may attract severe penalties. If you refuse a blood test that has been reasonably requested by a police officer, you will be considered to have committed the offence of driving under the influence. You may also be charged with an offence if you obstruct a health professional from obtaining a blood sample from another person, or act in any way that may prejudice the taking of a blood sample.
Evidently, refusing a blood test is a serious matter and may attract penalties of licence disqualification, fines or even imprisonment. The penalties for these offences are set out below in more detail. However, please note that the court has ultimate discretion in the punishment that is handed down depending on the context surrounding the incident.
As stated above, a refusal to provide a blood sample may attract penalties as strict as being guilty of the crime itself. Fort a first time offence, the alleged offender may receive a substantial fine. Any second time offender may receive a substantial fine as well as a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months. Subsequent offences will also attract a substantial fine, and a longer sentence of up to 18 months imprisonment.
It is also important to note that upon convicting an offender, the court is required to cancel the offenders licence and disqualify the offender from obtaining a licence for a period of 2 years for a first time offence and for a period of up to 4 years for any subsequent offence committed.
It is important to note that you cannot be held liable for failing to produce a blood sample in circumstances where you are legitimately unable to provide a blood sample. An alleged offender may provide a medical certificate explaining their inability to provide a blood sample.
There are many requirements that must be met before the results of blood test can be used against you in any court proceedings, and therefore it is important to know your rights. As an example it is important to note that all blood samples must be taken within 3 hours of the alleged offence or they cannot be used against you in court proceedings.