Record testing of drug-drivers

Victoria Police tested more drivers for the presence of drugs than ever before last year.

Of the 24,911 drivers tested, 327 had positive results for drugs – a strike rate of one in 76. This reflects a drop from previous years, with one in 59 testing positive in 2007 and one in 44 in 2004.

Inspector Martin Boorman said driving under the influence of drugs is particularly dangerous as it impairs vision, reduces coordination and prevents drivers from making the right decisions under pressure.

He said people needed to realise that drug-driving was just as dangerous as drink-driving.

"Research shows that a driver who has recently consumed cannabis or an amphetamine-based substance is at the same risk as having a crash as a driver with a blood alcohol concentration level above 0.05," Insp Boorman said.

"Illicit drugs can affect driving ability by causing impaired coordination, muscle weakness, impaired reaction time, poor vision, and an inability to judge distance and speed.

‘We will continue targeting drug drivers until the message gets through that drugs and driving are a deadly mix."

Since testing began in December 2004, over 72,000 random drug tests have been conducted on Victoria’s roads, with nearly 1200 drivers caught drug-driving.

Of these, 37 were repeat offenders.

First offence drivers detected travelling under the influence of illicit drugs face a fine of up to $1200 and possible six month licence cancellation.

Fines of up to $6000 and a 12-month licence cancellation are issued for second and subsequent offences.

Drivers who lose their licence as a result of a drug driving offence are required to undertake a drug education and assessment course before being eligible to drive again.

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