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Random Breath Testing


RBT and your Rights

Section 13 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act, 1999 gives police the power to carry out random breath tests on motor vehicle drivers.
A “breath test” is the roadside test that police conduct when a driver is stopped on the side of the road. A “breath analysis” is the test that is carried out, usually at a police station, after a positive result has been received from a random breath test and will provide an accurate reading of the driver’s Blood Alcohol Content.


A police officer can exercise the power to require a random breath test only if the officer “has reasonable cause to believe” that the person was the driver of the vehicle concerned. In cases of random stops on the roadway, it is self evident that the belief will be reasonable.


Offence to Refuse Breath Test:

It is an offence for a driver to “refuse” or “fail to undergo” a random breath test or a breath analysis. So serious is the offence of refusing a breath test that the penalty for is the same as for a High Range PCA.
Defence to a charge of Refuse Breath Test:
It is a defence to a charge of refusing a request by a police officer to undergo a breath test if the person can satisfy the Court that he was unable to do so on medical grounds.
Situations when Police cannot request a breath test.
Police are not permitted to carry out a breath test (or a breath analysis) in the following circumstances:

  1. Where a person has been admitted to hospital – unless there is no objection by the medical practitioner;
  2. If the person has been injured and it might be dangerous to carry out a breath test or a breath analysis;
  3. After the expiration of 2 hours from the occurrence of the event; and
  4. At the driver’s home.
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