Nasty implications in blood-test case

As soon as we save costs on one front – by running down the size of the police car fleet, for example – new costs pop up somewhere else.

A fascinating court appeal down south isn’t over yet, but Alf is twitchy about the fiscal implications if the ruling goes against the cops.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a Christchurch man fighting against paying for his blood test.

The legal challenge could lead to multimillion-dollar ramifications for the Government if the many thousands of drink-drivers who had been ordered to pay the cost of blood samples each year claimed back the fee.

In this case a Christchurch bloke successfully appealed to the High Court last year, challenging the $102.60 medical cost incurred when he opted for a blood sample after being stopped for drink-driving.

The medical costs cover the doctor’s callout fee and mileage to take a blood test.

Judges usually order those found guilty to pay those costs.

But in this case, the bloke’s lawyer argued that the District Court had no jurisdiction to order the medical expenses and Justice French agreed.

The police appealed against her decision and the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court decision in January.

The case was then taken to the Supreme Court, which yesterday gave the Christchurch bloke leave to appeal the Court of Appeal decision.

Alf likes to see a citizen have his or her rights upheld, when judges go too far. Hence he has a great deal of sympathy for anybody who might be improperly lumbered with blood-test charges.

But he is bothered that if the case goes against the police, and if Crusher’s law and order budget comes under further strain, there’s a real risk someone somewhere will say we have to look at spending priorities elsewhere. And the next thing you know, some smart-arse will be proposing the policy-makers take a hard look at how much the taxpayer should be providing for MPs’ expenses.

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