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Refusing a Blood Test in WA
The Drink Driving laws in Western Australia provide considerable detail as to the rights that police officers have when conducting breath/saliva/blood tests, and also the rights of the individual if they choose to refuse any such requests. The penalties imposed by the Western Australian legislation where a person refuses to provide a blood sample usually involve a fine and/or disqualification of the individual’s licence for a pre-determined period of time. The offence of refusing a blood test in Western Australia is outlined in the Road Traffic Act 1974.
The police in Western Australia have the right to request a blood sample from an individual for the purposes of determining whether any drugs and/or alcohol are present within their system. This will typically occur in a situation where the individual has already submitted to a breath test that returned a contravening result or in circumstances where the breath test did not return a result. A police officer also has the right to request a blood sample if they reasonably believe that the individual is under the influence of any alcohol or illicit substances.
If a blood test is requested, the laws of Western Australia are very detailed and outline exactly what needs to occur for a test to be valid. Most importantly, a medical professional must carry out the test with a sterile syringe within four hours of the alleged incident. Further, half of the sample must be given to the alleged offender in the event that they wish to have their own sample tested independently. These guidelines are set out in detail in the Road Traffic (Blood Sampling and Analysis) Regulations 1975.
If you refuse a request to provide a blood sample, you will be in breach of the Act and may face penalties including a fine and/or licence disqualification. It is important to note that the law in Western Australia divides the offences of refusing to provide a blood sample depending on whether the sample was requested to check for alcohol or drugs.
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Where an oral test has proven that the offender was responsible for the operation for a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol reading above the legal limit, the offender may be requested to provide a blood sample. In the event the offender refuses to provide a blood sample, a first time offender will be fined between $2,000 – $5,000 and be disqualified from holding a licence for at least 10 months.
Driving under the influence of drugs
If a driver was in charge of a motor vehicle at the time of the alleged incident and it has been proven by saliva testing that the driver was impaired by the use of illicit drugs, it will be an offence to refuse a direction to provide a subsequent blood sample. The penalty imposed on the driver will be similar to the penalty imposed if the driver was under the influence of alcohol as outlined above.
It is also important to note that if the motor vehicle in question was involved in an accident that caused death or grievous bodily harm to another, any refusal of the alleged offender to undertake a blood test may result in a fine of any amount and imprisonment for up to 14 years. This will also include a licence disqualification period of at least 2 years.
The provisions of the Western Australian Act explain that a defence may be available to the offender if it can be proven to the court that there was a substantial reason that the offender refused to provide a blood sample. There is no explanation as to what a substantial reason may include, however, the legislation does set out that it will not be sufficient to refuse a blood test for the purposes of avoiding having to provide information that will be used against the offender as evidence.