Can You Be Detained For Refusing To Take A Breath Test In Australia?

March 19, 2024    Traffic lawyers Perth
Can You Be Detained For Refusing To Take A Breath Test In Australia?

Driving is a matter of collective responsibility involving not just the safety and integrity of one driver but everyone who uses the road. This includes other drivers, pedestrians, animals, and even property. Drunk driving is one of the gravest threats to collective road safety. That’s why refusing a breath test is considered an offence, and penalties can differ according to the state.

Australia’s different territories and states have periodic breath tests on the road that check if the driver is inebriated while driving. This article sheds light on everything you need to know about breath tests and the penalties for refusing them.

How does a breath test work?

A breath test is a precautionary measure geared towards maintaining road safety. It samples your breath to check for traces of alcohol. This can be done through various means, but an electronic breathalyser is usually used. It checks for BAC or Blood Alcohol Concentration in your lungs.

Upon consuming alcohol, it enters the bloodstream, which, in turn, supplies oxygen to the lungs. Hence, any trace of alcohol in the blood can be found in the lungs. In Australia, the legal limit set for driving is 0.05%. Any more than that caught through a breath analyzer is considered drunk driving and counts as a criminal offence.

When can you be breath tested?

Generally, the police can be vested with the power to conduct random breath tests at various intervals. They can do this by stopping any vehicle on the road. You can be asked to take a breath test if you:

  • Drive any vehicle
  • Act as a supervisor for anyone holding a provisional licence
  • Start any motor vehicle

You are more likely to be breath tested if there is reason to believe that:

  • You’ve been in an accident
  • Committed offences while driving
  • Showcase behaviour that suggests your driving is compromised

However, you cannot be breathalysed for a stipulated period of time after an accident has occurred. This time limit differs with each territory or state. In Western Australia, police can only breathalyse you within 4 hours of an accident.

You might also opt for out-of-breath analysis if you have a genuine medical reason. It is best to consult some of the most experienced traffic lawyers in Perth to figure out ways to refuse safely.

What do you have to do during a breath test?

Besides breathing into an electronic breathalyser, the police might ask you to present your driver’s licence. This is necessary to identify you and ensure you are qualified to dive. Refusing to hand over your driver’s licence is an offence where you can be penalised for disobedience or contravening the orders of the police.

If you think you have been wrongfully accused, it is necessary to remain calm and contact the best traffic offence lawyer in Perth as soon as possible.

Can you refuse a breath test?

Generally, refusal of breath test is considered an offence for which there can be various degrees of penalty. There’s more to refusing a breath test than just verbal refusal. Not following the police officer’s instructions or providing inadequate breath samples can also be taken as a refusal. A refusal can be:

  • Verbal refusal
  • Non-compliance with the instructions of the breath test
  • Intentionally providing inadequate samples by not waiting for 10 seconds or blowing air too lightly

What is the penalty for not taking a breath test?

The punishment for refusing a breath test is determined by the laws of the territory or state on a case-by-case basis. While initial offences may be dismissed with a verbal warning, subsequent ones will build up in legal severity.
Depending on the scenario, the penalty can be monetarily exacted through a fine or as serious as imprisonment. The penalty fee for refusing a breath test generally ranges between 1000 and 5000 Australian dollars.

Additionally, recurring offences can lead to confiscating your driver’s licence with restrictions imposed on your mobility through motor vehicles.

Summing up

Drunk driving gravely jeopardises the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and all road users alike. Be it a minor hiccup or a major accident, the best traffic lawyers in Perth WA can help you safely navigate traffic laws.

Contact the best traffic lawyers in Perth to represent and guide you through the road today.

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