Page 3824 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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The final precondition is that police must reasonably believe that the person is on the premises. Police are then able to enter the premises to require drug or alcohol screening tests under the existing provisions of the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Act. When doing so, police will be subject to the existing restrictions on testing contained within that act, including the time limits relating to how long after a person stopped driving or is involved in an accident a screening test can be undertaken. For example, where there has been a road accident police cannot require a test if more than two hours have passed since the accident occurred. This means that police cannot enter premises to require a test if more than two hours have passed since the accident. In the case of a driver failing to stop when required by police, police cannot enter premises to require a screening test if more than two hours have elapsed since the person ceased to be the driver of the motor vehicle.

The amendment also provides that police officers who enter premises for the purpose of requiring a person to undergo a drug or alcohol screening test must not remain there for longer than is required to conduct those tests. The need for this amendment arises in the context of drivers who are involved in a road accident, leave the accident and enter and remain within a premises where they cannot be tested for drink or drug driving until the relevant evidence, that is, their blood alcohol concentration or a proscribed drug in their system, is no longer present.

It also applies in the context of drivers who, while driving, appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and when requested to stop by police refuse to do so and instead quickly enter premises to avoid testing and any resulting sanctions for drink or drug driving. In both circumstances these drivers pose a significant road safety risk yet are currently able to avoid sanction by entering premises to prevent police conducting testing. By avoiding a sanction such drivers can continue engaging in dangerous drink and drug driving behaviours and threatening the safety of all other road users.

Members, it is a sad fact that in both 2013 and 2014 over half of the deaths that occurred as a result of road accidents in the ACT involved a driver or motorcycle rider who had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit or a proscribed drug in his or her system. It is undeniable that there is a real risk of death and injury associated with drink and drug driving. This amendment will greatly enhance ACT Policing’s abilities to protect all road users by ensuring that those individuals who drink or drug drive can be detected and appropriately sanctioned and prevented from continuing these behaviours.

The fifth amendment made by the bill relates to drivers who receive an immediate licence suspension notice. Currently the legislation provides that drivers with an ACT drivers licence who are convicted of a drink or drug driving offence automatically have their period of disqualification reduced by the number of days their licences have been suspended since receiving an immediate suspension notice. However this reduction does not apply to interstate and foreign driver licence holders. The amendment ensures that all drivers are treated equally in this regard. This also has the benefit of better aligning the ACT road transport legislation with the New South Wales legislation.

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