A STAGGERING more than one-in-three drivers pulled over for mobile drug tests in Wagga are failing, police have revealed.
Of 1606 tests conducted in the local area command since the end of July, 576 (35.8 per cent) have proved positive to illegal recreational drugs, such as cannabis and ice, said head of Wagga Highway Patrol, Senior Sergeant Wayne McLachlan.
And with some illicit drugs detectable in bloodstream days or even weeks after consumption and long after the effect has worn off, an alarming number of drivers are being caught up to five times in a short space of time despite being warned by police to stay off the road and away from drugs.
“It’s ridiculous that these people keep going and going and going,” Sergeant McLachlan said. “It’s just craziness”.
Recently, three men have each been charged with five counts of driving with an illicit drug in their blood.
They will face court in January, following others who have already faced court on that multiple charges.
Sergeant McLachlan said police were disappointed and concerned at the overall results as well as a growing number of repeat offenders.
The number of people charged with driving with an illicit drug in their blood is now dwarfing the number caught drink-driving.
“We have that culture now you don’t drink and drive, but obviously the drug testing is a new thing and people have been able to use prohibited substances and get away with it for a long time,” Sergeant McLachlan said.
“But with this new testing we are now seeing it is having a massive impact.
“Police ask people not to use prohibited drugs, but if they chose to use them we ask that they not drive - consider the lives of their families and other road users,” Sergeant McLahlan said.
Critics of the mobile drug testing have claimed it is revenue raising and trampling on the rights of individuals.
It is a debate that Sergeant McLachlan as a public servant did not want to enter, saying only: “At the end of the day, we (police) are only enforcing the law”.
He agreed some people who are testing positive multiple times were not happy.
One man recently got into a wrestle with police after refusing to undertake a fourth test.
Another two men were in court this month charged with refusing to undergo an oral fluid test.
After a person proves positive to a roadside test and then a secondary test at the police station they are given a 24-banning by police.
“Despite advice from police that these prohibited drugs can stay in your system for an extended time some offenders chose to drive,” Sergeant McLachlan said.
And if they make that mistake, police have the technology in general duties and highway patrol cars to detect them quickly.
“Police have advanced technology in their vehicles that allows them to read warnings that have been placed on vehicles,” Sergeant McLachlan said.
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