VICTORIAN police will next year have the power to automatically suspend a driver's licence if a laboratory drug test showed the motorist was affected by illegal drugs.
Under the laws, announced today to take effect in mid-2010, motorists found to have illegal drugs in their system will face automatic licence suspension for three months and fines of at least $350.
"In the last financial year, almost 23,000 roadside drug tests were conducted with 341 offenders caught with an illicit substance in their system," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Ken Lay said.
"That's a strike rate of 1 in 67.
"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."
Victorian Roads Minister Tim Pallas said traces of one or more illicit drugs were found in 30 per cent of drivers who died on Victoria's roads each year.
"In fact, there are more drivers killed with illicit drugs in their bodies than drivers with illegal levels of alcohol," he said.
"If the driver is caught drug-driving a second time they face a penalty imposed by the court of up to $7000 as well as a licence cancellation of at least six months."
Two-time offenders may have their car impounded under laws announced in May.
"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," Mr Pallas said.
December 22, 2009
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