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Communtity Law Manual | Driving & traffic law | Defences to drink/drug driving charges

Drink/drug driving

Defences to drink/drug driving charges

When might I have a defence to a drink-drug driving charge?

  • Land Transport Act 1998, s 64(1)-(1B)

    Refusing a blood test for health reasons – It’s a defence to a charge of refusing to have a blood test if the test would’ve been harmful to your health. You’ll need evidence from a doctor to establish this defence.

  • Taking drugs on doctor’s instructions – It’s a defence to a charge of driving while impaired by drugs if you had a doctor’s prescription for the relevant drug or medicine or a doctor gave it to you, and you followed all the doctor’s instructions.
  • Refusing impairment test because of disability or injury – It’s a defence to a charge of refusing or not doing a drug impairment test if you weren’t able to take the test because of a pre-existing medical condition or disability, or because you were injured in the traffic accident that led to the police asking you to do the test.

Factors that don’t amount to a defence

  • Land Transport Act 1998, s 64(2)

    Strict compliance with testing rules not necessary – It’s not a defence that the police didn’t strictly comply with the breath- or blood-alcohol testing rules in your case, so long as there was “reasonable compliance”.

  • Earlier tests irrelevant – If you’re charged with driving with excess breath- or blood-alcohol, it’s not a defence that there was a mistake in any of the earlier tests that the police relied on to require you to have further testing.
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