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Important legal changes affecting road users

10 Feb 2016

Topics

  • Criminal Law

Drink driving ‘loophole’ closed in the ACT

New powers have been provided in the ACT to allow police to enter private premises and require people to co-operate with alcohol and drug screening tests.

In essence, where police suspect on reasonable grounds that a person has been drink or drug driving, and that person is on any private premises, the police may enter with reasonable force and require the driver to undertake one or more drink/drug driving screening tests. Police may also invoke the ability to enter premises for drink driving/screening if they suspect that a person was a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident, or if they failed to comply with an officer’s request to stop.

The legislation outlines that the officer must not remain at the premises for longer than necessary to conduct the test, which would arguably allow the officer to take a party into custody to provide samples at a police station.

This ‘loophole’ appears to cover a small range of circumstances, however now opens up wide police powers to enter homes without search warrants, if on reasonable grounds the police suspect a person has been drink or drug driving.

Electonic service of Infringement Notices

In 2015, the AFP issued the following statement, “The AFP never sends out traffic infringement notices via email, so if you have received an email that purports to be from the AFP and have doubt about its authenticity, do not make a payment or provide personal details.”

However, under recent amendments via the Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (No2) to the Road Transport (Offences) Regulation 2005 (ACT), police may now serve infringement notices by electronic means if approved by the chief police officer or the road transport authority. ‘Electronic means’ can be by way of email or even by way of mobile telephone service. It will be presumed that service is successful unless there is evidence sufficient to raise a doubt that the notice was not received.

In the past few years, web sites such as Scamwatch and the AFP has alerted the public to many internet scams which Australians should be wary of (see for example Police scareware scam continues to target Australians. The most recent 2015 AFP media release warns people not to click on an email link which initially asks a person to pay and ‘AFP Fine’ of $150, or their computer will be infected with malware software and become inoperable.

Needless to say, the public will now need to be extra vigilant with electronic communications from the AFP, as we can no longer assume these messages are illegitimate.

If you, or someone you know, requires assistance in relation to traffic-related offences, please contact our Criminal Law team today.