One in four drivers tested positive to drugs in 2015

ONE in four drivers subjected to roadside drug testing in the Richmond Local Area Command in 2015 returned positive tests for illicit drugs - an average of 141 positive tests every month.

OPERATION PATTERN: The roadside test used to detect drug drivers,  picking up cannabis and  methamphetamine. Photo Helen Spelitis / South Burnett Times
OPERATION PATTERN: The roadside test used to detect drug drivers, picking up cannabis and methamphetamine. Photo Helen Spelitis / South Burnett Times Helen Spelitis

Highest positive rates

Statistics from the NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command revealed the Richmond LAC had one of the highest rates of positive tests in the state, while in the adjoining Tweed Byron Command almost one in five drivers tested positive for illicit drugs.

Inspector Stephen Blair of the NSW Police Random Drug Testing Unit said roadside drug testing was rolled out across both the Tweed Byron and Richmond LACs in April 2015.

"The Richmond LAC commenced independent roadside drug testing in April 2015 and throughout the year, officers conducted over 5200 roadside drug tests (RDTs) resulting in 1270 drivers returning a positive roadside indication to an illicit drug," he said.

Quarter of drivers tested

That equates to 24.42% of drivers, or almost one in four, returning positive tests for illicit drugs.

Over the nine months of RDTs across the Richmond LAC, an average of 141 people every month were caught drug driving.

Insp Blair said Richmond LAC police also conducted in excess of 27,000 random breath tests in connection with their RDT activity.

In the Tweed Byron LAC, Insp Blair said police conducted more than 2000 RDTs.

"This resulted in 344 drivers returning a roadside positive indication to an illicit drug," he said.

"Police also conducted in excess of 2100 random breath tests in connection with their RDT activity."

Roadside tests accurate

Despite claims that many of the positive roadside tests sent for analysis come back negative, Insp Blair said that was not the case.

"On a state-wide basis, from the data provided by the NSW Forensic and Analytical Science Service FASS, only 3% of all tests undertaken by FASS have resulted in a negative indication to illicit drugs," Insp Blair said.

"Police in your area have been active in promoting road safety through high visibility - high impact policing and conducting both random breath and roadside drug testing."



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