Case tests drink-drive charges

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Perera

Drink-driv­ing charges in WA for the past eight years could be called into ques­tion in a Kar­ratha case cur­rently be­fore the courts, in which a lo­cal lawyer is claim­ing the breath-anal­y­sis equip­ment used by WA Po­lice may be in­valid.

Kar­ratha-based Oswald Le­gal crim­i­nal de­fence lawyer Adam Oswald is claim­ing po­lice equip­ment used to test breath sam­ples of sus­pected drink-drivers could be in­valid on the grounds a del­e­gate who ap­proved the equip­ment may not have been prop­erly au­tho­rised.

Mr Oswald is rep­re­sent­ing Kar­ratha man Hwa Yew Michael Chan, 26, who is charged with one count of ex­ceed­ing a blood al­co­hol con­tent of 0.08 while driv­ing in Nickol on Au­gust 14 last year.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Among the ev­i­dence Mr Oswald is re­ly­ing on is an ex­pert re­port from foren­sic sci­ence con­sul­tant and for­mer WA Po­lice foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tor Ha­dyn Green, who is now based in Kar­ratha.

In a court ap­pear­ance in May, the de­fence’s ini­tial sub­mis­sion prompted Mag­is­trate Robert Young to tell the court that, if it was proven, up to eight years worth of WA drink-driv­ing charges as well as cur­rent pros­e­cu­tions could be af­fected.

“Con­ceiv­ably it could call into ques­tion any drink-driv­ing charge for the last eight years,” he said at the time.

Last Wed­nes­day, Ed­ward Fearis from the State So­lic­i­tor’s Of­fice ap­peared in Kar­ratha Mag­is­trate’s Court via video link to make sub­mis­sions on be­half of the State for the first time.

He told the court the SSO was try­ing to de­ter­mine how the mat­ter should progress be­cause the de­fence did not ap­pear to be con­test­ing the el­e­ments of the charge, but wanted to set the case for trial

soon in case it af­fected cur­rent pros­e­cu­tions.

Mr Young said upon read­ing sub­mis­sions from both sides the case’s im­pli­ca­tions may not be as widerang­ing as first thought be­cause of the em­pha­sis placed by the de­fence, rep­re­sented by Oswald Le­gal lawyer Christo­pher Cole in Mr Oswald’s ab­sence, on the Na­tional Mea­sure­ment Act.

He said there was “con­sis­tent” prece­dent the Act did not ap­ply to speed mea­sur­ing equip­ment and may there­fore not ap­ply to a drinkdriv­ing case ei­ther.

“I sup­pose it de­pends to what ex­tent your sub­mis­sions might be af­fected by any rul­ing that the court might make that the Na­tional Mea­sure­ment Act has no ap­pli­ca­tion to this mat­ter what­so­ever,” he said.

The case has been ad­journed for sev­eral weeks to give the de­fence more time to con­sider the Na­tional Mea­sure­ment Act prece­dents and is­sues raised by the SSO.

The case will next be heard on July 19 in the Perth Mag­is­trate’s Court.

The SSO will re­main the pros­e­cu­tors for the State.

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