WA News Letters Culpable Drivers and Docs
Culpable Drivers and Docs
Written by Dr Revle Bangor-Jones
Monday, 27 February 2017

Dear Editor,

On 10 March 10, 2017, changes to the Road Traffic Legislation will come into effect. These changes have implications for the taking of blood samples for forensic purposes, predominantly in Emergency Departments.

What is changing?

There will no longer be a need to assign culpability of the driver(s) at the time of the crash, and the time window for the taking of samples will be increased to 12 hours. The new legislation allows for a trained person other than a doctor or nurse to take the sample.

Why the change?

Many serious and fatal crashes are the result of driver impairment by alcohol and/or drugs. This amendment will make it easier for evidence to be collected from impaired drivers involved in such crashes.

Who will decide when it is appropriate to take a sample?

The responsible police officer will decide who requires a sample to be taken and will complete the necessary paperwork, as well as being responsible for taking possession of the sample after it has been taken.

What happens if the patient refuses to have the sample taken, or cannot give consent?

The patient cannot be forced to have a sample taken but a refusal will result in police action. If the patient is unable to provide consent, e.g. patient unconscious, the police officer can authorise a prescribed sample taker to collect a sample from the driver in accordance with legislation. This must be provided in writing and signed by the police officer.

Where can I get more information about the amendment?

Information on the amendment can be found at: https://www.slp.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_848_homepage.html

Dr Revle Bangor-Jones, Medical Adviser, Office of the Chief Health Officer