Sunshine Coast Daily

Our drink-driving shame gets worse

A SUSPENDED jail sentence hanging over Lucinda Gail Jones' head was not enough to stop her from taking four of her friends on a drunken joy ride that ended with her smashing her car into a power pole.

The 21-year-old telemarketer from Casuarina was jailed yesterday as frustrated police announced the Northern Rivers was on track to once again be named the worst region for drink-driving in NSW.

Max Kirkham, who runs the six-week Tweed/Byron command's Traffic Offenders Program, said he had come to expect a large number of drink-drivers coming through his program as part of a court sentence.

The Tweed/Byron Local Area Command has received the dishonourable title of having the highest number of drink-drivers in the State in seven of the past eight years, and Mr Kirkham warned the problem was getting even worse.

“We have a new course starting tonight,” Mr Kirkham said yesterday.

“And we have 18 new people and seven from the previous course that still have one more session to complete. But next week we may have a couple more and the week after that a few more again.”

From January 1 to the end of August this year, police detected 804 alcohol-effected drivers, which acting Highway Patrol boss Senior Constable Justin Lavin said could well see the region again top the State.

For the full 12 months of last year, drink-driving offences in the Tweed/Byron command had reached just over 1000, but with more than three months left in the year, police say they will easily smash last year's detection figures.

“We caught three drink-drivers on the weekend, one of which was high range at 0.15,” Snr Const Lavin said.

“We are on target at this stage to have the most in the State again.”

Snr Const Lavin said police were gearing up for the school holidays and the warmer months in which the number of drink-drivers was predicted to soar.

Mr Kirkham said the drink-driving problem stretched up the coast and over the border into the Gold Coast - which had the worst drink-driving record in Queensland.

At Murwillumbah Local Court yesterday, the latest addition to the Northern Rivers' shocking drink-driving record wept in the dock as magistrate Jeff Linden sentenced her to 12 month's jail with a three-month non-parole period.

The court had heard that beside disregarding her existing licence suspension, Lucinda Jones injured four friends as well as herself when she lost control of her car while driving drunk at Bray Park on January 25.

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