THE number of West Australians caught driving under the influence of drugs has almost doubled compared to this time last year, new figures reveal.
On Good Friday, nine out of 60 drivers tested in Bunbury returned positive hits for meth — almost one-in-six motorists. Some also had cannabis in their system.
The operation was a combination of random and targeted testing, with senior police yesterday bemoaning the “stupidity” of some motorists.
Police Minister Liza Harvey made no apology for “swamping the streets” with cops armed with drug-testing kits.
WA Police figures to the end of February show officers carried out 17,759 roadside drug tests so far this financial year with 1871 positive results, or one in every 10 motorists testing positive for drug-driving.
That compares to 1062 caught drug-driving in the same period last year.
Drug tests are carried out when police suspect a driver is under the influence of illicit substances. Drivers caught with drugs in their system can expect to cop six demerits this long weekend, plus a $500 fine.
Mrs Harvey said police had more than doubled the number of roadside drug tests, from just under 9000 last financial year to at least 19,000 this year.
Police have carried out more than a million breath tests so far this financial year and are set to eclipse their target of breath testing 1.1 million West Australians before July 1.
From 1,002,344 breath tests to the end of February, 6248 drink-driving charges were laid, equating to 0.6 per cent of drivers. That’s down from 1.1 per cent of drivers who failed breath tests in the same period last year.
“This year we have poured millions of additional dollars from the Road Trauma Trust Account towards police detecting and capturing those irresponsible, selfish and dangerous motorists who get behind the wheel drunk and high and put everyone of us at risk,” Ms Harvey said.
Acting Superintendent Ian Clarke, one of the state’s top traffic cops, said 95 per cent of drivers were “doing the right thing”.
“It’s that 5 per cent who put everyone’s lives at risk and create potential to devastate people’s lives,” he said.
WA Police is also moving to buy more compact and portable drug-testing kits that allow a two-step salvia and oral screening exam to be carried out from a patrol vehicle.
Currently, the secondary oral test can only be done in a booze bus or police station because of the size of the machine.
The RAC said $141 million remained in the Road Trauma Trust Account and the motoring lobby group has called for further spending to cut the toll.