Alex Sunderland was annoyed that police wouldn’t oblige his and his friends’ request of a voluntary breath test. Photo: BELINDA SOOLEA P-plater who had “a few drinks” to celebrate his 18th birthday was twice refused a breath test before he made the decision to get behind the wheel of his car.
Nanjing Night Net

Alex Sunderland had drunk two schooners of beer, one long-neck of Toohey’s Extra Dry, a six-pack of beer, three pre-mixed drinks, a couple of shots and some homebrew rum in a five-hour period.

He had been celebrating his 18th birthday with a few mates in Narromine on Saturday night and wanted to be sure his blood alcohol level had returned to zero before driving back to Dubbo on Sunday morning.

The drivers had stopped drinking at midnight but at 9am “we thought we might still be over the limit”, Mr Sunderland told the Daily Liberal.

“So we rang the police station in Narromine to ask if they could please give us a breath test so we could see if we could drive back (to Dubbo).”

He and the other three drivers were refused a breath test by both officers at the Narromine Police Station and staff at the Narromine Hospital.

“We checked all the pubs as well but they didn’t have a breath-test machine,” Mr Sunderland said.

He said they “waited a few extra hours” before he and three friends, all P-platers, drove a carload of people each from Narromine to Dubbo about midday on Sunday.

NSW Police’s traffic services commander, assistant commissioner John Hartley said police were not obliged to conduct breath tests upon drivers “in an effort to establish if they are under the legal limit”.

He said police roadside devices were only a screening device and the scientific device, the breath analysis instrument, was the only sure way to determine the exact level at the time.

“The set up time for this machine is in excess of 20 minutes and would remove police from the roads,” assistant commissioner Hartley said.

A Greater Western Area Health Service spokesperson said the Narromine Health Service did not have a breath test device.

Assistant commissioner Hartley said for the driver to be on zero alcohol level “at the minimum (he) would have to wait one hour for every standard drink consumed after finishing his last drink”.

“The simple response (is to) make alternate arrangements to driving if he can’t count his drinks,” he said.

Mr Sunderland said they felt “pretty p….d off”.

“People bag out P-platers and when we try to do the right thing it’s like, no,” he said.

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