Area of Law – Driving – Drink Driving Offences

An Article about Doctor who authorises taking of blood sample pursuant to drink driving offence prosecution

See the decision of Stone v McIntyre [2007] VSC 406. This case was an appeal from the Magistrates Court on a question of law. The Magistrate had convicted the defendant on the charge of s. 49(1)(g) of the Road Safety Act. The contested issue was whether the certificate evidencing the blood sample and the concentration of alcohol in that sample, was invalid due to the author not nominating themselves as either a registered medical practitioner or approved health professional.

The argument on the appeal to the Supreme Court was that the certificate was so ambigigous that it did not comply with section 57 of the Road Safety Act (that section governs the admissibility of blood samples in prosecutions for drink driving offences under s. 49).

The Supreme Court noted that it was an essential requirement for the prosecution to prove that the sample was taken by a registered medical practitioner (doctor) or approved health practitioner and if the prosecution could not establish this the offence under s. 49(1)(g) must fail. However the Court held that it was open to the Magisrate who heard the case at first instance to infer from other evidence that the person who provided the analysis and authored the certificate was relevantly qualified for the purposes of s. 57.

The Supreme Court also observed that judical notice could be taken of the author’s qualifications (MRCS – Member Royal College of Surgeons) after the doctor’s signature that that person was a registered medical practitioner within the meaning of the Road Safety Act 1986.

 

Date: 01/09/2009