Driving offences and police powers
Produced in partnership with Red Lion Chambers

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Red Lion Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Driving offences and police powers
  • Police powers and preliminary tests
  • Police powers of entry to administer a preliminary test following an accident
  • Police powers of arrest
  • Police powers to stop vehicles
  • Police powers of search

Driving offences and police powers

Police powers and preliminary tests

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988) there are three types of preliminary tests.

These are:

  1. a breath test administered by the police in which a suspect provides a specimen of breath which is tested to check if the proportion of alcohol in the person’s breath is likely to exceed the prescribed limit

  2. a preliminary impairment test is used to check the physical reactions and ability of the driver, and

  3. a preliminary drug test is a procedure by which a specimen of sweat or saliva is obtained to give an indication whether drugs have been administered by the driver

The Deregulation Act 2015 (DA 2015) removed the requirement for an officer to conduct a preliminary test where a portable evidential breath test device is available. In these circumstances, the officer can move directly to take the evidential breath tests. The ability to require a preliminary breath test remains available.

The police have the power to require a person to co-operate with any preliminary test, if the police officer reasonably suspects the defendant:

  1. has driven, attempted to drive or be in charge, or

  2. will drive, attempt to drive, or

  3. be in charge of a motor vehicle

  4. while on a road or other public place, under the influence of drink or drugs

If there is a reasonable suspicion that the defendant

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