Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 471 ..
from many other sources. I think that our police have got enough to do with their time without sitting around at accident scenes filling out reams of unproductive and pointless paperwork. For that reason, I support Mr Hargreaves' Bill.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (10.43): Mr Speaker, the Government will not be supporting the amendment. Mr Hargreaves' Bill seeks to repeal section 10A of the Motor Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1997. Section 10A of the Act requires that if a screening test, a random breath test, has been done and it indicates that a person's blood alcohol level is higher than is prescribed, or if that person fails or refuses to undergo a screen test, the police officer should provide a certificate to the person who was tested, and that certificate records the date, time, location, test results, if applicable, and identification of the police officer. The certificate is also signed by the officer and the screening test and certificate completion occur by the roadside at the time of the event.
Mr Hargreaves maintains that section 10A certificates are an unnecessary procedure, an unnecessary expenditure on stationery and an inefficient use of police time. Mr Hargreaves also submits that police record all the necessary information as part of other procedures, either at the police station or in preparation for appearance in court. These procedures include the blood alcohol test print-outs at the police station, the statement of the informant and the police notebook entries.
Section 10A certificates provide an important time reference in regard to the statutory two-hour time limit during which breath testing may occur in police custody, and it should be noted that section 14 of the Motor Traffic Act prohibits breath testing in police custody, which is usually done at the police station, if more than two hours have elapsed since a person ceased to be a driver of a motor vehicle, that is, when the driver underwent the initial roadside test. A copy of the section 10A certificate which is in the possession of the driver effectively means that the time of screening is not a matter of controversy. I think that is a very worthwhile protection, both for the police officers and for the driver.
Consequently, if Mr Hargreaves' Bill is passed by the Assembly and we dispense with the section 10A certificates, if they are no longer being issued to the drivers by the roadside, drivers and police officers will lose that protection. There is a clear chain of evidence that starts immediately with the event, not filled out later and not put together at some later time. It is given to the drivers. The police keep their records, so everybody is protected. If this important protection is lost, how is it that both driver and police officer are protected?
The important thing here is that the two-hour limit starts from the time of the test. It is not done from the time the reports are filled in back at the station. It is not possible to support this amendment because I think it exposes not only drivers but also the police officers. Were a judge to be unhappy with the evidence given or a driver to claim that he was tested outside the two-hour limit, we would then expose our police officers to unnecessary appearances in court, because the officers obviously would be called in to explain when they made the original roadside stop, made the original test and had the original result given through the breathalyser.