New roadside drug testing trial in Victoria’s west

Motorists travelling through Victoria’s western region can expect to be drug tested more often, with officers from one-person stations now joining the effort to nab drug drivers.

Under a trial kicking off today, the roadside drug testing program will be expanded to allow for police officers stationed at Skipton, Harrow, Lake Bolac, Wycheproof, Manangatang and Stanhope to conduct the tests.

Edenhope Police Station are also participating in the trial, with one police officer now trained in roadside drug testing.

Until now, roadside drug testing was only led by specialist units, including state and local highway patrol units, the Heavy Vehicle Unit, and the Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section (RPDAS).

Western region Superintendent Peter Greaney said there was opportunity to reallocate a number of drug tests to the one-person stations.

“We were extremely keen to be part of this trial,” Supt Greaney said.

“Regional areas across Victoria unfortunately tend to be overrepresented when it comes to serious injury and fatal collisions, and the sad reality is that drugs and alcohol are often underlying factors.

“We welcome any opportunity to bring down the severity and incidence of road trauma – particularly heading into Christmas and the New Year – as we know it not only devastates families, friends and loved ones, but creates a huge ripple effect within our communities.

“If this expansion means more police officers can help take even one drug driver off our roads, that’s already a huge win for our region.”

The trial is expected to run until 30 March 2020, however may be expanded further and to other areas depending on the results.

Supt Greaney said the initiative would hopefully influence motorist attitudes and deter people from making poor decisions behind the wheel.

“Drivers can expect to be pulled over for a roadside drug test at any place and any time, so be warned – if you take drugs and drive, you will be caught,” he said.

“If we can deter people from making risky choices to start with, we can save lives on the road.”

Victoria Police is delivering 150,000 drug tests in the 2019/20 financial year.

Natalie Butler

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