TRAFFIC OPERATIONS: Police set up traffic operations, testing drug and alcohol. Constable Alyx Still Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle
TRAFFIC OPERATIONS: Police set up traffic operations, testing drug and alcohol. Constable Alyx Still Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle Bev Lacey

Drugs surpass drink

THE war on drugs has widened dramatically in scope, with officers seizing drivers’ licences by the hundreds in the Western Downs alone.

Each police station has a dedicated Road Policing Unit, which usually administers roadside breath tests and enforced speed limits.

In March, 2015, training was rolled out under the former Newman government’s Queensland Road Safety Action Plan across the entire South West District (spanning from Dalby to the western border of Queensland) to empower Roadside Policing Units to test drivers for drugs.

Since the training, Dalby’s RPU has more than doubled the QPS’ haul of drug drivers from fewer than 200 in 2013-14 to 462 drivers in 2015-16.

The test itself is administered by scraping the victim’s tongue with a small plastic single-use kit, which reacts to anything more than 25 nanograms of THC, the psychoactive ingredients in cannabis, or 50ng of methylamphetamine, the active ingredients in ecstasy and ice.

Acting Sergeant Bill Mitchell for Dalby’s RPU said drug drivers had become more common than drink drivers since the tests were introduced in 2007.

His unit of seven officers, six of whom are trained in drug detection, have been targeting motorist choke points like Tara, Yarraman and Blackbutt in conjunction with smaller police stations over the last week.

He confirmed that under the QRSAP drug testing would become a standard part of roadside licence checks by 2017.

“Whether it’s a B&S ball, a rodeo, we will attend.

“Anywhere, any time, it’ll be the same with drug testing as it has been with breath testing.”

Out of the 408 tests conducted by Dalby’s RPU since their training, 143 drivers have been charged with drug driving.

The penalty for having any drug in your system while driving is a fine of up to $1649 and up to three months in prison and a licence disqualification of one to nine months.


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