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ACT’s drink and drug driving rates hold steady throughout pandemic

Earlier this month, nine drug drivers and five drunk drivers were caught and taken off the road in one night, despite overall drink and drug driving charges remaining steady in 2020 year-on-year.

Six of the drivers caught driving drunk or under the influence of drugs on the night of 3 September were doing so either unlicensed or on a suspended licence.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to see people continuing to take such reckless risks on the road,” said ACT Policing Officer in Charge of Road Policing, Detective Inspector Marcus Boorman.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol or any other substance is dangerous. It can cause death or injury, and we will continue to detect and put before the courts those who choose to drink drive or drug drive.”

Despite this one remarkably busy night for local police officers, data from ACT Policing shows there has been no noticeable increase in impaired driving in the ACT during the COVID period.

Drink and drug driving offences have remained mostly flat throughout COVID when compared to the same period last year.

The number of drink driving charges issued in the ACT from April to August 2019 totalled 436, while for the same time period this year there have been 378 arrests, which equates to a 13% drop.

However, drug driving charges are up 9% year-on-year, from 366 in April to August 2019 to 398 over the same time frame in 2020.

There was a total of 802 drug or drink driving offences from April to August in 2019 compared to 776 from April to August in 2020, a 3% drop overall.

Detective Inspector Boorman said ACT Policing use a targeted, intelligence-led approach to deter, detect and remove impaired drivers from our roads.

“This approach has continued during the response to COVID-19,” he said.

“The public should continue to expect that roadside alcohol or drug testing can happen anywhere, any time, on any road by police in marked and unmarked police vehicles.”

This comes after numerous reports from ACT Policing of an abnormally high number of speed-related offences committed on Canberra’s roads throughout the pandemic.

ACT Policing issued 601 infringements for speed-related offences on Canberra’s roads in July 2020 alone.

“There were plenty of motorists treating the road as their personal speedway, and on average, every 74 minutes in July someone was detected speeding by police in Canberra,” Detective Inspector Boorman said at the start of August.

“If the current trend continues, we will surpass the number of infringements issued for the whole of 2019 in the next few weeks.”

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