New device to let police drug test drivers "every day"

A NEW weapon in the fight against road fatalities is coming to the Northern Rivers and police are putting drivers who use illicit drugs on notice.

Richmond and Tweed Byron Highway Patrol cluster supervisor Senior Sergeant Chad George said the Drager DrugTest machine would be kept at Lismore Police station from May 2015.

Traditionally, Snr Sgt George said, drug testing operations across the region coincided with major events.

"Drug testing is usually conducted with our major events, so Mardigrass, Splendour in the Grass, Bluesfest and over holiday periods," he said.

"Once we get the device we will be able to use it every day and there is a push on for mobile testing rather than the stationary testing we have traditionally conducted."

The Drager DrugTest device detects the presence of cannabis, methamphetamine, amphetamines and cocaine in a driver's oral fluid.

Once a positive roadside result is produced the driver then undergoes further, more sensitive, testing to confirm the presence of illicit drugs.

The Richmond Local Area Command was identified as one area of NSW which had a high hit-rate for drug drivers, Snr Sgt George said.

"Richmond LAC has had some high results in the past from the percentage of drivers tested compared with the number of tests conducted."

"The devices are being regionalised, starting at the end of this year; however the device coming to the Richmond LAC will arrive in May 2015.

"That will allow us to do random drug testing exactly the same as we now do random breath testing."

In August, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced 11% of fatalities on the state's roads involved drivers or riders with illicit drugs in their system - justifying the rollout.

"We know that in the last four years, at least 166 people died on our roads in crashes involving motorists with at least one of three illicit drugs: Cannabis, speed or ecstasy, in their system," he said.

"We will be stepping up the fight to remove this behaviour from our roads and help save the lives of innocent motorists endangered by the idiotic actions of drug drivers."



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