Push for breath tests after fatal crashes on private land

TEARING around the paddock in your bush-basher after knocking over a bottle of rum may soon become an even riskier exercise with legal implications in NSW.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay is pushing for police to have the power to test drivers for drugs and alcohol when someone is killed in a car crash on private property.

The driving force behind the move is tragic.

It follows the 2010 deaths of teenagers Eliza Wannan and William Dalton-Brown who were run over at a booze-fuelled party on a property in central-western NSW.

The coroner found the driver, 17-year-old Rhys Colefax, was under the influence when he accidentally reversed over the couple while they slept in a swag.

He could not be charged with any crime because the accident happened on private property.

"The Wannan, Dalton and Brown families have endured a terrible tragedy, one that no parent should have to suffer," Mr Gay said.

"But they have been determined to ensure changes are made so that, if this ever happens again, another family will not have to experience the uncertainty and disappointment that they have.

"A clear issue in this matter was the uncertainty for police as to whether the accident occurred on a road or road-related area within the meaning of the Road Transport Act."

The proposed law would empower police to run drug and alcohol tests on drivers after any fatal or likely to be fatal crash, regardless of where it happened.

"Let me be clear that this amendment is a small change, but one with an important outcome: the better collection of evidence to support the prosecution of those who may do the wrong thing behind the wheel of a car," Mr Gay said.

"I note this bill does not change the existing random breath or roadside drug testing powers.

"Those powers will continue to be exercised only on a 'road' or 'road-related area'.

"It also does not introduce any new offences or additional powers of entry for police."

The proposal is still under discussion in the lower house.

-APN NEWSDESK



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