Blitz nets 50 drink-drivers

By JANE GARDNER

jgardner@northernstar.com.au

YOU would think they'd know better by now, but Byron Bay and Tweed Heads drivers continue to hit the bottle then get behind the wheel in record numbers.

Sgt Bill Darnell, of the Tweed Heads police, said the results of a three-day blitz on drink-drivers from March 8 to 10 were disturbing.

Police arrested 50 drink-drivers in that time, with the worst offender returning a blood-alcohol reading of .230 ? five times the legal limit.

"It's a fairly frightening figure," Sgt Darnell said.

"Some of those we pulled over were well-affected, to the point where they were staggering and needed to hold on to something to support themselves.

"It is a real concern we continue to have the worst record for drink-driving in NSW for the past six out of seven years."

Sgt Darnell said the high number of tourists, combined with the party reputation of the Tweed/Byron area, contributed to the situation.

"For every 46 breath tests we do, one will come back with an alcohol reading over the limit," he said. "To put that in perspective, if you drove for five minutes you might pass 150 cars in that time. That means four of those people you see are affected by alcohol.

"All it would take is for one of those people to cross to the wrong side of the road and you could be killed or injured."

Even more worrying is the statistic that one-in-10 road crashes local police attend in the area are caused by drivers under the influence.

The solution, Sgt Darnell says, is more resources.

"We cannot do this alone," he said. "We pulled together every resource we have, including ex- tra officers from Sydney, for the weekend blitz, but we can't do that every weekend."

Sgt Darnell was surprised by the number of drink-drivers caught by the three-day blitz because it was not a special occasion or a long weekend.

"It would not be unusual for us to catch 50 drink-drivers on any given weekend," he said.



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