Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

AA looks cautiously at drink-driving bill

Scott Simpson, MP for Coromandel. Photo / Supplied
Scott Simpson, MP for Coromandel. Photo / Supplied

The AA will take a cautious look at a bill which closes a drink-driving loophole.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson's Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill, drawn from the parliamentary ballot last week, would widen the circumstances where a positive evidential breath test is admissible evidence in drink-driving prosecutions.

Under current law, a positive breath test is not admissible in evidence if the suspect opts to have a blood test, but there have been a small number of cases where police were unable to get blood tests after suspects had chosen to have them, and had not been able to fall back on breath test results to prosecute.

Mr Simpson cited one 2005 case, where police had struggled with a suspect whose blood sample was gained only after several attempts.

"What my bill would attempt to do is ... if blood is not available for any reason, you can go back and use the original evidential breath test in the proceedings," he said.

"Evidential breath tests are admissible in evidence in some circumstances under the current law, and this needs to be widened to ensure we are doing everything we can to prosecute those people who chose to drink and drive."

Mr Simpson planned to use the parliamentary recess to canvass other parties on the proposal. Because it's a technical matter, I would hope there would be fairly wide support across the House." He was yet to consult with police and the AA.

AA traffic law spokesman Mike Noon yesterday told the Herald he had some initial concerns with the bill, which he planned to examine closely.

Though Mr Noon supported the bill if it helped police close a specific loophole to catch more drink drivers, he said there had been cases where evidential breath tests had proven inaccurate.

The AA supported drivers' right to take blood tests and would oppose any moves to remove the option.

- NZ Herald

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