Police out in force

Substance and alcohol impaired drivers will have their night out cut short when an operation by Traralgon police comes into force this weekend.

With funding granted for extra police units specifically targeting drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, roads in and out of Traralgon will be monitored each Saturday and Sunday evening for the next six weeks.

Seeing a need for a crackdown, Traralgon police First Constable Gerard Wursthorn applied for funding to execute the project, named Operation SCRUB.

“We will have patrol vehicles around the (central business district) but also on the main streets going in and out of Traralgon, all the roads where people duck out behind,” First Const Wursthorn said.

“One night there will be three or four spots that we’ll try, but we will also be sitting in the carparks of licenced venues, sometimes in unmarked cars doing breath testing.”

Between January and May, 2013, 86 incidents of drivers registering over the legal blood alcohol concentration limit in Traralgon were recorded.

“Eleven of these drivers indicated they had come from a public bar or restaurant within Traralgon,” Mr Wursthorn said.

“I saw a need within the community for a greater emphasis on substance-affected driving.

“If we’ve got a unit tasked just on traffic and drink driving we’re more likely to make more of an impact.”

First Const Wursthorn also believed there was an increase in drivers impaired by illicit or prescription drugs.

“There’s a lot of people on drugs that drive, that’s why we’ve changed it to substance-affected,” he said.

“If they’re impaired driving and they’ve said ‘I’ve had prescription drugs’ and they say, ‘yes’ but don’t have a prescription, that’s illegal but they also shouldn’t be driving if they are affected.”