Shoalhaven police operation targets drug drivers

IF you drive a car in the Shoalhaven while under the influence of drugs you will get caught.

That is the simple message from Shoalhaven police duty officer, Inspector Dave Cockram.

Shoalhaven police continued their crackdown on drug driving in the local area with another operation on the Princes Highway at South Nowra on Thursday morning.

Although every police car has the capability of being a mobile drug testing unit, Inspector Cockram said the high profile operation included general duties officers, members of the local highway patrol and the “Drug Bus” from Sydney.

“This operation has been funded by the Centre For Road Safety,” Insp Cockram said.

“This is actually the second phase of the operation. We ran a similar operation around Vincentia last month.

Shoalhaven police duty officer Inspector Dave Cockram.

Shoalhaven police duty officer Inspector Dave Cockram.

“The aim of the operation is to identify drivers who have used drugs and then driven their cars on our roadways.

“That’s obviously a contributing factor to serious and fatal motor vehicle collisions not only in the Shoalhaven but within NSW.”

He said drug driving was something Shoalhaven police were certainly targeting.

“We have had officers from the Shoalhaven Local Area Command, highway patrol officers as well as the drug bus and an operator from Sydney,” he said.

“That officer is basically in charge of running the operation with us.

“Numerous police were involved, not only doing mobile drug testing but also random breath testing for alcohol impaired drivers as well.”

Inspector Cockram said the mobile drug testing was a simple procedure.

The motorist undertakes a tongue swab, which tests for methamphetamines and cannabis.

Results of the initial test are known within three minutes.

If the driver returns a positive test they are taken into the drug bus for a further reading.

“The driver is detained by police and undergoes a secondary test,” he said.

“If there is a positive result on the secondary test, it is sent away for analysis.”

He said drivers who test positive could face court action and be liable, if found guilty, to a maximum fine of $5500 or three years disqualification.

“There are significant penalties associated with it,” he said.

A driver who test positive is also automatically disqualified from getting behind the wheel for 24 hours.

Inspector Cockram could not confirm if drug driving numbers were dropping in the Shoalhaven.

“This is just something we want to generally target,” he said.

“It’s something we’ve seen on our previous years of crash data.

“Drug impaired drivers do feature in those figures. It’s something we want to proactively target and be involved in reducing road trauma.”

He said a lot of people don’t realise how long drugs can stay in their system.

“We are seeing indications that it can be upwards of 24 to 48 hours that traces remain in their systems,” he said.

“The message is simple - don’t use drugs and drive.”