Roadside drug testing in and around the Wagga Wagga area of NSW has gained a lot of attention in local media of late, due to the staggering number of people being caught with illegal drugs in their system.
According to the Wagga Wagga local newspaper, The Daily Advertiser, a record 80 drug drivers had their cases brought before a court on one day alone. The people had allegedly all been recently caught while driving with illegal drugs in their systems. Another ‘huge day’ would play out in court in the near future.
The court appearances follow an extensive push by police in the Wagga and Cootamundra areas to conduct roadside drug testing. In the first several weeks of this year, police conducted drug testing on 608 drivers with 137 recording a positive test. That’s a staggering 22.5% of people tested!
The roadside testing also supports the growing evidence that drugs are surpassing alcohol as the main substance-abuse issue on our roads. In a recent single-day roadside blitz, more than 6500 alcohol tests and 1600 drug tests were carried out, resulting in 12 drivers being detected above the blood alcohol limit and 133 drivers with drugs in their system.
The roadside testing is considered somewhat controversial, with some saying the testing is an attack on civil liberties and others questioning whether a positive drug test result indicates impairment. However, the police and the government are not backing down.
“This is a road safety issue; we don’t want people using illegal drugs, and certainly if they use drugs we don’t want them to drive,” Senior Sergeant Wayne McLachlan of the Wagga Traffic and Highway Patrol is quoted as saying in The Daily Advertiser. Meanwhile, the NSW Roads Minister, Duncan Gray, has said the government’s hard-line approach was motivated by evidence that shows 14 per cent of road fatalities in NSW in 2014 was linked to drug driving.