9 December 2022

Police target impaired motorists as Canberra drink drive cases increase

| Claire Fenwicke
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Police test drivers at a roadside stop

Police will be targeting drunk and drug-affected drivers in the lead-up to Christmas and New Year’s. Photo: ACT Policing.

“We have already seen 18 people die on ACT roads this year, and many of these incidents have seen alcohol or drugs play a significant factor.

“All those people are not going home to family and friends this Christmas.”

That’s the message from Officer in Charge of Road Policing Acting Inspector Ken Williams, as ACT Policing turns its monthly Traffic Focus to impaired driving.

Police have already charged 796 people with drink driving on Canberra’s roads in 2022 up to 30 November – already up from the 794 total in 2021.

While charges for drug driving are on course to be lower this year – 495 in 2021 compared to 400 up to 30 November – Act. Insp. Williams said impaired driving was still a “significant issue”.

“We don’t want to play the ‘party poopers’, but we do want people to take more care and responsibility when they’re making decisions about drinking and operating a motor vehicle,” he said.

“[Our officers] are saying that as we’ve moved out of COVID, people in general must have forgotten how to drive.”

READ ALSO Community challenged to do their part to prevent further road deaths as Christmas period looms

The level of some drivers’ drunkenness has also concerned police. One man recorded almost six times the legal blood alcohol limit while driving on Gungahlin Drive on 26 November.

And police are worried as Canberrans celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, more will choose to drive home drunk.

“The summer months bring a rise in parties, end-of-year celebrations and public holidays, but sadly we also see a rise in anti-social, illegal and potentially dangerous behaviour,” Act. Insp. Williams said.

“Put bluntly, if you drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you significantly increase the risk of causing a collision, potentially seriously injuring or killing yourself or someone else.”

Police urged drivers to “make smart choices” and have an alternative plan to get home if they have been drinking – whether it’s public transport, a designated driver or calling someone to pick them up.

“I’ve told my children that if they’re ever out and need a ride home to just call me, anytime of the day,” Act. Insp. Williams said.

Those who see dangerous driving behaviour are encouraged to contact ACT Policing on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

READ ALSO NRMA urges police to use windfall speed camera revenue to increase RBTs to cut road toll

“We need that information because basically if we don’t know what’s happening, we can’t assist and respond,” Act. Insp. Williams said.

“Anytime, anywhere, any police car is a random breath testing unit.

“We want to remove all impaired drivers from the road if possible.”

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I know of a bloke who goes to a local club every afternoon after work and drinks straight Irish whisky for a few hours. Gets in the work van and drives home. Also know of apprentice tradies who go the the club after work, have a few beers and drive home badly in their tradie Utes with “p” plates affixed. And then …

My point is a few RBT sessions before Xmas is unlikely to achieve even diddley squat.

If coppers were concerned about road safety, they’d be lobbying the government to cut the grass at roundabouts

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