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Police Should Have Warned Drunk Driver Of Consequences Of Not Giving Blood Sample

29 August 2013 - Défi Media Group

Police Should Have Warned Drunk Driver Of Consequences Of Not Giving Blood Sample

Pursuant to section 123 H (5) of the Road Traffic Act, it is the duty of the police to warn the offender that refusing to give a sample of his blood can play against him in case he is being sued and this objection can be utilised in Court.

In the case of the accused, Ganeshan Rathna Sabapathy Chettiar, Magistrate Sophie Chui Yew Cheong, sitting at the District Court of Moka, is convinced that the police did not give this warning to the accused. 

It is for this reason that the Court pronounced a verdict of not guilty  in favour of the accused under count 2 of the information for having unlawfully driven on a road a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol in such a quantity that the proportion thereof in his blood exceeds the prescribed limit in breach of section 123 F (1) (a), (3), (4), (5), 123 H (1), (4), (5), (6), 52 coupled with the Second Schedule of the Road Traffic Act.  

Under  count 1 of the information whilst driving a motor vehicle on a road, unlawfully failed to provide a specimen of his breath without reasonable excuse in breach of section 123 G (1) (a), (2), (a) and 52, coupled with the Second Schedule of the Road Traffic Act  the Court  found the accused guilty. Accused pleaded not guilty to both counts and was represented by counsel.
 It is the case of the prosecution that on 4 August 2008 at 19.40 hours PS Nandah attended a road accident along Royal Road, Quartier Militaire in company of DPC Lowtun. 

The two vehicles were facing opposite directions. One of the drivers was standing on the road while the other driver, whom he identified as the accused, was sitting on the pavement. He asked both drivers to indicate the point of impact but the accused was unable to stand up. While talking to the accused, he noticed that the latter smelled of liquor. With the help of PC Lowtun, PS Nandah lifted accused and put him in the police vehicle. They went to Quartier Militaire Police Station for enquiry. The Emergency Response Service (ERS) personnel were called to proceed with a breath test. According to PS Nandah, accused made no complaint about his health at the site of the accident.

Deponing from the witness box accused stated that he informed PS Nandah that he was not well and could not undergo the breath test. He stated that he was dizzy and could not breathe. He further stated that he was not explained of the procedures and further was not told of the consequences of failing to give a sample. He added that he was undergoing treatment at the Cardiac Centre and for diabetes at Candos Hospital. In his submission counsel for the accused stated that on count 1 the accused has raised medical grounds for failing to submit to the breathe test. As regard count 2, in as much as the accused was not cautioned same should be dismissed.

 In her judgment the magistrate found the accused guilty as charged on count 1 and dismissed count 2 against him.” I therefore find that the appropriate warning under section 123 H (5) was not given to the accused and that accused was in the circumstances not properly aware of the consequences so that the prosecution cannot rely on such evidence,” the Court underlined. The Magistrate laid emphasis on section 123 H (5) where the law imposes an obligation to the police officer to warn the accused that a failure to provide a specimen of blood will firstly render him liable to prosecution and secondly may be used against him in a Court of law. “I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the officer duly informed accused that the failure to provide a blood sample may be used against him as evidence,” she added.

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