Twenty-six drivers have been caught behind the wheel with illegal drugs in their system since Thursday in what police have described as “alarming” and “a danger” on Latrobe Valley roads.
A handful of those drivers were repeat offenders, according to police, who said cannabis and methylamphetamine – also known as ice – were the main drugs detected in recent days.
It comes as 800 people were breath-tested by police between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day with two people returning positive results for drink driving.
“The messages aren’t getting through,” Latrobe Highway Patrol Sergeant Mick Williams told The Express on Wednesday.
“It’s good to see that other things are improving, but the results we received for drug driving are alarming.
“We [detected] four on Christmas Eve, two on Christmas Day and we had 20 drug detections in the four days leading into Christmas Eve.”
Drug driving was not the only issue police had to deal with over the festive break, issuing 23 penalty notices over the three-day period for a range of road-related offences.
One man, a 28-year-old from Deer Park, was clocked at 141 kilometres per hour on the Princes Highway at Traralgon East on Boxing Day while a 19-year-old Churchill P-plater was caught driving at 136km/h in a 110 zone at Hernes Oak on Sunday.
The Deer Park man was issued with a $595 fine, a loss of six demerit points and will lose his license for six months while the Churchill man will cop a $436 fine, a loss of four demerit points and a one-month license suspension.
“It’s very disappointing that there are other people that want to place themselves and other drivers at risk by speeding or taking drugs and getting behind the wheel,” Sergeant Williams said.
“We are starting to see a lot of repeat offenders for drug driving in Latrobe and there is obviously a drug problem across the board, not just specifically to Latrobe, but people need to think before putting other people at risk.
“But as I’ve said before, we don’t condone people taking drugs but if they are going take those types of illicit substances, don’t drive because we will catch you.”
A 45-year-old Morwell woman was detected on Christmas Eve for allegedly drug driving while police also picked up two men in separate incidents – a 33-year-old from Churchill and 31-year-old from Traralgon – for the same offence.
On Christmas Day, a 25-year-old Moe woman and 33-year-old from Warragul were also pulled over and drug tested before they both returned positive results.
“We’re getting about a 38 per cent strike rate here in the Valley which means one in three drivers we test are returning to drug driving and that’s very alarming,” Sergeant Williams said.
Victoria Police’s Road Policing Command spent four days in the Valley in lead up to Christmas assisting local police with Operation Road Wise which will continue targeting road-related offences until the end of next week.