Two hundred thousand drivers will be checked for drugs over the next two years under a major expansion of Victoria’s roadside testing program.
Money for 100,000 extra drug tests to nab drugged drivers starts flowing this month after the Andrews Labor Government boosted the program, which was due to be scaled back from September 30.
The extra tests come as 700 highway patrol officers have finished their training and can now administer random roadside drug tests that can be used in court.
In 2013-2014, only 42,000 Victorian drivers were tested for drugs. This grew to just under 80,000 in 2014-2015 and will now be set at 100,000 a year in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.
In 2013, 32 per cent of drivers and motorcyclists killed tested positive for illicit drugs. And in the last long weekend one in nine drivers tested for illicit drugs returned a positive result.
In the 2015-16 Victorian Budget, the Andrews Government continued funding for the extra drug tests so more dangerous drivers could be taken off our roads.
They are part of a $17.7 million package that includes the overhaul of Victoria’s ageing booze bus fleet with four large buses and six smaller buses that will help police test in more places, including rural and regional areas. The custom-built fleet will be phased in over three years.
The expansion comes amid recent changes to Victoria’s driving laws:
- Drivers who are caught with alcohol and illicit drugs in their system will now face a minimum 12-month licence cancellation and court fines up to $4550 for a first offence.
- Victoria Police will also be able to impound the vehicles of first-time offenders who record a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 or higher. For repeat offenders convicted of drug and alcohol offences, the maximum fines will range between $13,650 and $40,959, depending on blood alcohol level and previous offences. They will also receive a minimum two-year licence cancellation.
- From October 30 it will be mandatory for all drivers involved in serious crashes to submit to a blood test for drugs.
These changes will complement the Government’s road safety strategy, which aims to make Victorians safer by ensuring they are safer drivers, in safer vehicles and on safer roads.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Wade Noonan
“These drivers are a menace. We need to get drug drivers off our roads.”
“One hundred thousand extra tests means 100,000 more chances to stop a driver from killing someone.”
“More drug tests, new booze and drug buses and more police testing drivers will keep all road users safer.”