Our drug disgrace - one in seven driving drug-affected in Tamworth

ONE in seven Tamworth drivers have been caught behind the wheel under the influence of drugs in a police blitz on local roads.

Senior NSW Police branded the results “disturbing”, warning drivers were playing Russian roulette with their lives and others on the road.

In a rolling assault on roads across the region, the Random Drug Testing Unit teamed up with local police, highway patrol officers and the Centre For Road Safety to test Tamworth drivers this week.

And the results were shocking, with 11 out of a total of 81 drivers testing positive for an illicit drug.

Drug testing nit Commander Inspector Steve Blair said that equated to a strike rate of one in seven behind the wheel.

“This is just reckless behaviour by people in the district,” he told The Leader.

“I find that level of drivers driving a motor vehicle with an illicit drug present in their system very disturbing.”

The mobile drug tests were conducted across the Tamworth CBD with police testing for cannabis, methamphetamines such as speed and ice, and MDMA or ecstasy.

Police have warned they will step up the fight to hammer home the safety message.

“We will not retreat from our fight against drugs,” Inspector Blair said.

“This is all about safety – the safety of drivers and their passengers and the safety of other roads users.”

Inspector Blair said the joint operation was aiming to promote road safety, arguing the decision could be deadly in that split second behind the wheel.

“It’s a moment’s loss of concentration by these people and innocent road users are hurt. It causes accidents,” he said.

“And it’s the flow-on effects to the families and the community.”

The results weren’t much better in Glen Innes and Armidale.

Police conducted 123 drug tests on local drivers with 14 testing positive.

“That equates to one in eight drivers that we stopped having illicit drugs in their system,” Inspector Blair said.

“Motorists have to understand that it is a criminal offence to drive a motor vehicle with an illicit drug in their system.”

The results of each test have now been sent to a laboratory for forensic analysis, with charges and a court date forthcoming if the results test positive again.