Mandatory blood testing, for drugs, for any driver involved in serious road crash, has been passed into law by the Victorian Parliament. From 30 October 2015, police in Victoria will have the power to compel all drivers involved in crashes where someone is seriously hurt or killed to have their blood tested for drugs.
The reform closes a legal loophole where drivers who kill or cause serious injury were not required to submit to a blood test if they themselves did not need medical attention. In one case, this meant a driver who killed a pedestrian was charged with dangerous driving rather than the more serious culpable driving, as police were unable to obtain enough evidence to prove he was drug impaired at the time of the accident.
These changes come as a result of a legal tangle over unauthorised blood testing earlier this year. When the Victoria Police Act replaced the Police Regulations Act in July 2014, the lawmakers had overlooked a rule under which a Deputy Commissioner of Police could authorise blood tests. Instead, only a Chief Commissioner could sign off on drug testing.
The cock-up resulted in 650 drug tests taking place without the proper authorisation and embarrassment for the Victoria Police. The new amendment returns the authorisation rules to the situation before the new act was added to the legislation.
The laws are in addition to two new offences for combined drink and drug-driving, which came into force on August 1. These carry a minimum 12-month licence cancellation and court fines of up to $4550 for a first offence.