Mid West drug and breath test operation shows a quarter of roadside drug tests returned positive results

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Regional Deployment Vehicle operations will continue around the Mid West this month.
Camera IconRegional Deployment Vehicle operations will continue around the Mid West this month. Credit: WA Police

Almost a quarter of roadside drug tests rolled out by police in an ongoing Mid West blitz returned positive results for drivers being drugged behind the wheel.

The WA Police Breath and Drug Operations branch from Perth did not waste their resources in the Mid West and Gascoyne district after receiving an alarming result of positive drug tests over a two-week operation between June and July.

The operation has been in two phases so far — with a total of 15,067 vehicles stopped throughout Geraldton, Kalbarri and Carnarvon.

Police targeted 310 drivers to undergo roadside drug tests and of those, 72 were positive, or 23.5 per cent.

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Phase one ran in Kalbarri and Geraldton from June 29 to July 6. Out of 6248 vehicles stopped, 145 targeted drug tests were conducted resulting in 21 positive tests. Four results were in Kalbarri and the remaining 17 were in Geraldton.

Phase two stopped 8819 vehicles between July 7 and July 14 in Geraldton and Carnarvon. Of those, 165 had targeted drug tests and 52 were positive.

Of those positive results, 19 were in Carnarvon and 33 were in Geraldton.

Police said the drug-drivers were testing positive for mainly cannabis and methamphetamine.

Operations manager Sgt Warren Conder said although the figures were alarming, it was not unexpected to see in regional towns where drug detection was on the rise.

“Police are increasing our drug capabilities and are discovering roughly about one in 10 drivers are affected by drugs,” he said.

Sgt Conder said results during the winter school holidays were up from the last visit in the middle of last year based on national statistics indicating a rise in drug use.

“When we deploy our resources in these areas, we seek local police intelligence. We are always looking to help regional stations. Our priority remains the same,” he said.

“There are always competing priorities in any station or district. Their priorities fluctuate, but at breath and drug our priorities are the same. We’re up there to help them.”

Of the 15,067 vehicles stopped in the first two stages, 28 drivers returned a positive alcohol test — just 0.19 per cent of results indicated drink-driving.

Geraldton traffic acting officer-in-charge Sen Sgt Adrian Geary said targeted drug tests were conducted when plate checks showed indications of prior drug use and drivers appeared affected.

“We’re targeting the correct people and making the road safer by removing those people from driving who have drugs in their system,” he said.

Phase three is under way in the district and police expect numbers to rise.

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