Police conduct random breath tests.
Police conduct random breath tests.

Drink-driver arrests halved

HALF the number of motorists were charged with drink-driving offences across the Richmond Local Area Command over the holiday period, compared with last year.

However, motorists in the tourist areas between Byron and Tweed are still to get the message, with the number of charges rising.

The only road fatality involved Mullumbimby cyclist Daniel Afflick, who was struck by a car on December 16 and died in a Queensland hospital on Christmas Eve.

The success of the police's Operation Arrive Safely follows a campaign by The Northern Star to help stamp out drink-driving.

In an attempt to reduce the local road toll, the newspaper last year ran a campaign to name people who appeared in court on drink-driving charges.

Police figures reveal more than 5000 motorists were breath-tested in the Richmond area, which covers Lennox Head, Ballina, Lismore, Casino, Evans Head and Kyogle, between mid-December to January 2.

Although about 1000 more motorists were tested this year, those caught driving under the influence almost halved to 18.

Still, the number jumped to 83 from 72 in the Tweed-Byron area, with about 1200 fewer breath-tests.

Insp Darren Steel, of the Tweed-Byron highway patrol, said he was disappointed motorists still ignored the drink-driving message.

“We regard it (the rise) with disappointment,” he said.

Operation Safe Arrival also concentrated on encouraging people to slow down over Christmas.

However, speeding offences in both areas rose during the operation, which Northern Region traffic co-ordinator Snr Sgt Glenn Trubody said could be partly put down to the dry driving conditions this year.

In the Richmond area, 276 people were detected exceeding the speed limit, compared with 184 last year.

In Tweed Bryon, the number jumped to 171 from 160 last year.

With many people planning to return from holidays after Australia Day, police will again hit the roads in Operation Safe Return, which starts tomorrow.

Figures for 2008/9 Christmas holidays:

Richmond Area Command

  • Drink-driving 18 (35) 
  • Speeding 276 (184)
  • Seatbelt 27 (37)
  • Other traffic charges 20 (14)

Byron-Tweed Command

  • Drink-driving 83 (72)
  • Other traffic charges 54 (82)
  • Speeding 171 (160)
  • Seatbelt 15 (45)

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