Written by  Joseph Burke 2014-05-09

Relevance of Priors in Failing to Accompany

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The Road Safety Act 1986 is as over legislated an act as parliament can make. As quickly as loopholes get discovered by lawyers, the legislators close them, and acts born of simple elegance gradually disintegrate into a nightmare of spaghetti proportions.

Somewhere along the line, the powers that be decided licence suspensions should be mandatory for drink driving offences. And these suspensions should be substantially increased for those repeat drink drivers. But lets look at what a repeat drink driver actually is. It's someone that has previously had a drink driving offence. So, a speeding offence isn't a drink driving prior. But what about someone that's refused to accompany a police officer to a police station to provide a breath sample?

Well, that is an offence against s49(1)(e). For a first offence, involves a licence cancellation of 24 months. For a second or subsequent offence, the cancellation is 48 months and a maximum 12 months imprisonment (18 months for a subsequent offence).

Consider someone who has previously committed an exceed PCA of 0.06 BAC when they were 26 years old. They were given 10 demerit points, but did not have their licence suspended. 4 years later, they are pulled over for a random breath test but refuse to comply with a request to accompany a police officer.

Does the prior drink driving offence really relate to accompanying a police officer to a police station when the police officer has no power to arrest? Well, according to the Road Safety Act 1986, it does. This person will get a 4 year suspension, even though they haven't previously refused a request to accompany a police officer. According to Section 48(2)(a), where a person is previously found guilty of an offence against s49(1), the latest offence is regarded as a second or subsequent offence.

Such are the consequences of spaghetti legislation.


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