Pubdate: Sat, 26 Dec 2009
Source: Bendigo Advertiser, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 The Bendigo Advertiser & Independent Pty Ltd
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


MOTORISTS driving with illicit drugs in their system will face
automatic licence suspension of three months and heavy fines when
tougher new penalties for drug-drivers come into effect in the new

Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas said the new laws would give
Victoria Police extra powers to keep the state's roads safe from
dangerous drug-drivers.

"One or more illicit drugs are found in 30 per cent of drivers who die
on Victoria's roads each year,'' Mr Pallas said.

"In fact, there are more drivers killed with illicit drugs in their
bodies than drivers with illegal levels of alcohol.

"We want to stop drug-drivers from endangering their lives and the
lives of other Victorian road users. Driving while affected by illicit
drugs puts the lives of all road users at risk.''

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Ken Lay welcomed the new
drug-driving laws, saying motorists with illicit drugs in their system
had become an emerging problem for police.

"We know there are drug-affected motorists on the roads, and a
mandatory loss of licence will be an extra deterrent to those
dangerous drivers,'' Mr Lay said.

"It sends a clear message to drivers that the community does not
accept that type of behaviour.

"If you choose to drive while under the influence of drugs, expect to
be caught.''

Under the new laws, drivers with illicit drugs in their system will
face an automatic three-month suspension and a minimum $350 fine.

If caught a second time, they will face a court-imposed fine as high
as $7000 and at least six months' suspension.

Two-time offenders may also have their cars impounded.

Mr Pallas said the pointless loss of life on the roads could not
continue, and tougher enforcement was necessary to bring down the road

He said drivers would now be tested for drugs by police cars as well
as drugs buses similar to booze buses.

"Automatic licence suspension powers directly address community
concerns and will take more high-risk drug-drivers off the road each

"Motorists will see more enforcement through roadside drug-testing
programs, with an additional 20,000 tests - bringing the total to
approximately 35,000 across Victoria - to be conducted in 2010.''

The new laws will come into effect in the middle of next year. 
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