Under the NSW government proposed new one-punch laws, people with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 will be found “intoxicated” – this is the equivalent of people charged with high-range drink driving offences.
Under Premier Barry O’Farrell’s Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014, intoxication will be defined as a blood alcohol concentration of .15. The amendment was tabled last week Thursday and is three times the level used to measure low-range drink driving offences (.05). The bill is expected to be passed by the Parliament soon with the support of the Labour opposition.
According to O’Farrell the bill is intended to bring about safety on the state’s streets with its new measures which are aimed at combating drug and alcohol fuelled violence.
O’Farrell was quoted as saying about the amendment:
“The NSW government has heard the community’s call for action. We are committed to continuing to address the drug and alcohol-fuelled attacks on our street and the increase in violence that is used in those attacks.”
The bill says that there will be a “conclusive presumption of intoxication if the accused has more than .15 concentration of alcohol following a breath or blood sample analysis”.
The measures do not set any limits for drugs which means that any level of drugs found in a person’s system may indicate intoxication.
Perhaps one of the more controversial of the government’s alcohol violence measures is the introduction of a minimum mandatory sentence of eight years and a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail for an assault causing death if the assault is committed by an “intoxicated” perpetrator, under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. For those perpetrators who aren’t intoxicated a 20 year maximum penalty will apply for assaulting a person resulting in their death. Also whether the victims die from the injuries received during the assault or hitting the ground etc, the same will apply.
Alex Wodak, the emeritus consultant for the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney said the 0.15 blood alcohol level was the same level at which drivers are charged with high range drunk driving. The following excerpt is taken from Smh.com.au and quotes Wodak about the new measures:
“That comes from a huge body of research into blood alcohol and risk of a car crash. But this figure has been plucked out of the air,” Dr Wodak said.
“There is no research on the link between blood-alcohol concentration and violence.
“Some will be unconscious at this blood level and most will be very drunk.
“But some drinking, say, three bottles of wine per day might be little affected by it.”
According to Dr Wodak, the risk of these new laws is that some people have higher alcohol tolerance levels than others and these people may be found guilty when they are innocent. Dr Wodak said that high blood alcohol concentration levels aren’t always linked to violent crimes.
According to the proposed law a breath test must be taken within 2 hours of the alleged offence and blood and urine samples can only be required within 4 hours after the alleged offence.