Types of Breath Tests to detect drink driving offences Victoria

This article will outline the different types of breath tests, the relevant laws in Victoria, the role of the police, the court process, and the potential penalties associated with drink driving offences detected through breath testing.

Breath tests are a common method used by the police in Victoria to detect drink driving offences. They play a crucial role in ensuring road safety and holding accountable those who drive under the influence of alcohol.

Types of Breath Tests

  1. Preliminary Breath Test (PBT): This is a roadside test conducted by the police using a handheld breathalyzer. It is used to assess whether a driver has alcohol in their system and if further testing is required. A PBT is not admissible in court as evidence.

  2. Evidentiary Breath Test: This test is conducted at a police station or a mobile testing unit using a more accurate breathalyzer machine. The results of this test are admissible in court and can be used as evidence against the driver.

Laws in Victoria

The Road Safety Act 1986 is the primary legislation governing breath tests in Victoria. It outlines the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits for different categories of drivers, the procedures for conducting breath tests, and the penalties for drink driving offences.

  1. Legal BAC Limits:

    • Full license holders: 0.05 BAC
    • Learners, probationary license holders, and professional drivers: 0.00 BAC
  2. Mandatory Breath Testing:

    • Police have the authority to request any driver to undergo a breath test.
    • It is an offence to refuse a breath test without a reasonable excuse.

Role of Police

The police play a crucial role in enforcing drink driving laws and conducting breath tests.

  1. Random Breath Testing: Police have the authority to stop any vehicle and request the driver to undergo a PBT. This is often conducted at random breath testing sites or during routine patrols.

  2. Evidentiary Breath Test: If the PBT indicates that the driver may be over the legal BAC limit, the police will arrest the driver and take them to a police station or a mobile testing unit for an evidentiary breath test.

Court Process drink driving offence

The court process for drink driving offences involves several stages:

  1. First Appearance: At the initial court appearance, the offender will be required to enter a plea (guilty or not guilty), and the court may consider bail if necessary.

  2. Plea: If the offender pleads guilty, the court will proceed to sentencing. If the offender pleads not guilty, a contested hearing will be scheduled.

  3. Contested Hearing: During the contested hearing, the police will present evidence, and the offender can present their case and any defences. The magistrate will then make a decision based on the evidence presented.

  4. Sentencing: If the offender is found guilty, the court will proceed to sentencing. The court will consider various factors, including the offender’s driving history, the level of intoxication, and any other relevant circumstances.


The penalties for drink driving offences in Victoria vary based on the offender’s BAC level and any previous drink driving convictions. Penalties may include fines, license disqualification, mandatory alcohol education programs, and, in severe cases, imprisonment.


Breath tests are a crucial tool used by the police to detect drink driving offences in Victoria. Understanding the types of breath tests, the relevant laws, the role of the police, and the court process is essential for all drivers to ensure compliance with the law and to navigate the legal process effectively if charged with a drink driving offence.