Blood Alcohol Testing - S.A. Road Traffic Act 1961 & Harbours & Navigation Act 1993

S.A. Road Traffic Act (NB other states may vary)

A forensic blood alcohol specimen will be taken in the following circumstances:

  • Involvement in vehicular/boating/skiing collision (occupant - including passenger, pedestrian, cyclist, equestrian)
  • Age > 14 y.o.
  • Presents to hospital < 8 hrs post accident
  • Public road (including beaches, town and shopping centre car parks, state forest tracks)
  • Voluntary testing following positive police breathalyser 
  • Ordered by police if unable to comply with breathalyser


  • Every effort should be made to obtain a blood sample unless the patient specifically objects or a policeman instructs otherwise
  • If unconscious or deceased, blood should still be taken
  • Do not rely on hearsay that a patient had a negative breathalyser at the scene
  • Blood samples may be aspirated from IV cannula (but not once IV fluids have started)
  1. Open the kit
  2. Obtain verbal consent 
  3. Perform venipuncture and draw 10ml blood (do not use alcohol wipes)
  4. Fill bottles and seal with label ID
  5. Complete quadruplicate form
  6. Confirm ID on form corresponds with labelled bottles (document ID in ED record)
  7. Give one sample to patient (in cases of positive police breathalyser test) else place both samples in police box
  8. Provide green copy of form to patient (if not practical, seal in envelope and store with patient's personal effects)

Maintain chain of evidence - the blood sample must not leave your sight/possession from the time you obtain it to the time it is deposited in  the police blood box

Consent issues/Patient refusal

  • Read the Road Traffic Act on the form
  • Indicate that a refusal constitutes an offence
  • Record any factors that may contribute to a refusal
  • Penalties for refusal:
  • $300 for non-drivers
  • $700-$1200 first offence for drivers
  • $1500-$2500 subsequent offences.

Additional information

  • Hospital breathalyser and lab reports are not admissible as evidence (do not confirm or deny guilt)
  • A repeat specimen is not required if there is no break of the chain of evidence with the first sample
  • Document any irregularities or unusual circumstance during the process


Disclaimer: Note: The information described here relates solely to operational matters in the Emergency Department.  Every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the content. However, neither the author or the hospital will take responsibility for errors resulting from its use.  Please refer to your own departmental guidelines and verify all clinical decisions with a reliable source.  

Date Last Reviewed: 05/08/2004