Evidential specimens in road traffic cases
Evidential specimens in road traffic cases

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Evidential specimens in road traffic cases
  • What is an evidential specimen?
  • Power to request specimens of breath
  • Power to request specimens of blood or urine
  • Medical reasons
  • Unreliable and unavailable devices
  • Preliminary drugs test
  • Condition of the suspect due to drugs
  • Who chooses whether the specimen should be blood or urine?
  • The statutory warning
  • More...

What is an evidential specimen?

Once a suspect has been arrested for an alcohol (or drug) related motoring offence, the police will require them to provide a specimen of either breath, blood or urine, for analysis.

The specimen provided is called an 'evidential specimen' because the results of analysis will be used by the prosecution to prove a specific offence, for example, that an offender was driving with excess alcohol in his body.

An evidential specimen must be distinguished from a 'preliminary test'. A preliminary test, such as a roadside breath test, is administered by the police who suspect the ingestion of alcohol or drugs. The test is indicative only. To prove an offender has committed an offence such as driving with excess alcohol, an 'evidential specimen' must be obtained.

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.

See Practice Note: Road traffic offences—failure to co-operate with a preliminary test.

The power to request an evidential specimen only applies 'in the course of an investigation' into specific offences.

These are:

  1. section 3A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988) (causing death by careless driving when under the influence

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