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Procedure for blood tests

Information about the procedure for taking blood tests if a driver is suspected of a drug driving offence.

A blood sample must be taken by:

  • a registered medical practitioner, or
  • an approved health professional (registered nurse).

Blood must be taken according to procedures set out in Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

These procedures include information about:

  • swabbing skin area from where blood is to be removed
  • dividing the sample into 2 sealed containers
  • what information is required on container labels
  • what happens to the blood samples—both samples in sealed plastic bag and placed in locked receptacle
  • when the blood must be analysed—within 12 months of taking sample.

See rr. 13, 14—Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic)..

Code of practice for blood samples from road accident victims

A code of practice has been developed and adopted at many places where blood is taken from people who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents. Police provide a kit to assist organisations who adhere to code. It is police practice to require all drivers and motorcyclists to have blood samples taken from them unless there is a compelling reason for not doing so. If there is any doubt about whether a person may have been driving or in charge of a motor vehicle or motorcycle then a blood sample will be taken.

There is no requirement that a blood sample be collected within 3 hours of driving.

See 5665.35 in Motor & Traffic law Victoria and s. 57(2)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Certificates

Certificates must:

  • contain details required under Regulations
  • be signed by the registered medical practitioner or approved health professional who took blood sample.

Another certificate will be required from the analyst who examined blood sample.

See Blood tests used as evidence and s. 57—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and rr. 19, 20—Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Handling blood samples

From 31 January 2018 part of the blood sample will no longer be given to the person who provided the sample. The sample will be divided into 2 containers, both will be given to the police. The police will organise for one of these containers to be sent off for analysis. The other they will keep as evidence.

If the person who provided the sample would like to have the blood sample tested independently, they can request the reserved sample from police for this purpose.

There is a presumption of regularity and continuity of blood sample between taking sample and its transportation to laboratory for analysis. This presumption has been held to stand despite long delay between taking blood and its eventual analysis (20 days).

Despite no evidence of safekeeping between leaving laboratory and being analysed there is a presumption that the sample was the same blood and that its condition did not change.

See [5665.40] in Motor & traffic law—Victoria.

Storage of blood samples

Blood samples should be kept sealed in their original plastic packaging and placed in the refrigerator—not the freezer.

Tests undertaken at Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine have shown that samples preserved under these conditions will remain viable for at least one year without the drug content breaking down. Cannabis has shown to be the most difficult drug to preserve, but remains unchanged for at least one year.

This information was provided by Dr O'Dell from Clinical Department of Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine.

More information

Legislation

Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

  • s. 3(1)—defines registered medical practitioner and approved health professional
  • s. 56—blood samples to be taken in certain cases
  • s. 56(1)—doctor defined
  • s. 56(2)—blood samples following possible road accident
  • s. 57—evidentiary provisions—blood tests
  • s. 57(1)—defines properly qualified analyst and approved analyst
  • s. 57(2)—charges where blood sample evidence can be used and provision that enables blood sample to be admissible in court beyond 3 hour period between driving and blood collection
  • s. 57(2)—blood to be analysed within 12 months of taking sample

See Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic)

  • r. 13—procedure for taking blood sample
  • r. 14—procedure after taking blood sample
  • r. 19—certificate (statement of compliance) by person who took the blood sample
  • r. 20—certificate by analyst of blood sample
  • r. 21—certificate by analyst where blood sample indicates presence of drug

See Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic).

Reference

Motor and Traffic Law Victoria

Motor and Traffic law—Victoria has commentary about:

  • blood and urine samples [5657]
  • code of practice for taking blood samples from road accident victims [5665.35]
  • presumption of regularity and continuity of handling blood samples [5665.40].

Note: To access content type the brackets and number reference into the search box, for example '[5665.35]'

See Motor & traffic law—Victoria Part 5—Offences involving alcohol or other drugs [5600](opens in a new window).

Acknowledgement

Thanks to John Marquis, Barrister, for advice about how a person can independently test their blood sample following the changes to procedure on 31 January 2018, which no longer require a portion of the sample to the person who provided the sample of blood.

Updated