WIDER REACH: New drug testing programs have helped police catch more drug drivers.
WIDER REACH: New drug testing programs have helped police catch more drug drivers. contributed

Drunk, high and driving on our roads

IT'S not only drunk drivers we need to worry about on our roads but also those who are high, stoned and totally off their face.

With Australia Day just a few days away, police are reminding anyone considering getting behind the wheel after a big day or night to think again. 

Queensland Police Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Mike Keating said the ratio of motorists testing positive to drugs was "significantly higher" than positive alcohol breath tests and events like Australia Day bumped up the statistics further. 

And the proof is frightening with one in five road fatalities in 2015 involving a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"During last year's 50-day Christmas Road Safety Campaign, police conducted 624,798 random breath tests and 2874 drivers were charged with drink driving," Asst Comm Keating said.

"In the same period, police conducted 9287 drug tests and 1853 drivers were detected as having an illicit drug in their system.

"The ratio of positive drug tests is significantly higher than positive alcohol breath tests as police conduct targeted drug tests on drivers who they suspect show signs of drug use rather than RBTs which are tested at random."

Asst Comm Keating said there was typically a broader range of effects caused by drugs than alcohol, making a drug-driver more unpredictable, but equally as deadly.

"The effects of drugs on driving vary depending on the type of drug. However, common effects include the inability to judge distance and speed, distortions of time, place and space, reduced coordination, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, paranoid psychosis, hallucinations, blurred vision, dizziness and fatigue," he said.

"Similarly, drink drivers are typically impaired by having a slower reaction time, blurred vision and poor judgment, concentration and coordination on the roads."

Since the QPS started its Roadside Drug Testing program in 2007, and trained more officers to conduct the drug tests, there has been a sharp increase in the number of drivers charged with driving under the influence.

Asst Comm Keating encouraged anyone considering getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to change their mind. 

"Our message to all drivers is simple: if you are attending a party or event where you intend to drink alcohol, make sure you have a plan to get home safely that doesn't involve driving.

"Nominate a designated dry driver, use public transport or arrange a taxi to get home safely."

This Australia Day, police will be out in force targeting anyone doing the wrong thing on our roads. 


Penalties

Maximum first offence penalties:

Drink driving - Blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 and over - fine up to $3413, disqualified from driving for at least six months and-or face up to nine months' imprisonment.

Driving while relevant drug is present in blood or saliva - fine up to $1706, disqualified for at least one month and not more than nine months or face imprisonment for up to three months.



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