POLICE on Nimbin Road conduct drug searches.
POLICE on Nimbin Road conduct drug searches.

Drug-driving tests a ?marvellous success?, say local police

By HELEN JACK

THEY might have only caught a few people but police say their new drug bus is a marvellous success.

The drivers they caught allegedly under the influence probably won't agree.

During April police tested 85 drivers in the Tweed-Byron area and found three of them had drugs in their system. During the MardiGrass they tested another 100 people and caught five more.

Around the state 1600 drivers have been tested and one in 46 were busted.

Eight out of 185 and 34 from 1600 might not seem like a lot but NSW Police Minister David Campbell says the program is justified.

Richmond Local Area Command Superintendent Bruce Lyons said he was encouraged the new roadside drug testing unit.

"It means people are getting the message and to police that's good news," he said.

"Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is dangerous anywhere, especially in country areas where people don't know the roads."

Police are further encouraged because the number of drivers busted for driving while drugged is three times the number caught with alcohol in their blood.

Traffic service commander Superintendent John Hartley has admitted the number of drivers found under the influence of drugs was distorted because police targeted events or locations where drug use was expected like MardiGrass.

The roadside drug test consists of a mouth swab which is processed on site in a purpose-built unmarked police van and takes only five minutes to return a result.

If a driver delivers a positive result, a second test is taken. If that one is positive the driver is arrested and ordered to undergo a blood test at hospital. If that test comes back positive, the law comes down on them. For a first offence the driver will face a fine of $1100 and lose their licence.



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