Drink-drivers tempting fate

By CRAIG McTEAR

COFFS HARBOUR police have declared war on drink-drivers after alarming figures in their latest blitz.

Highway patrol and general duties police nabbed 24 drink-drivers from 1385 breath tests over the past two weekends in a campaign which focused on Coffs Harbour, Sawtell, Coramba, Glenreagh, Woolgoolga and Ulong.

"One in nine accidents in the Coffs Harbour area involve alcohol, and it's a major contributing factor in some fatal accidents," Sergeant John Patacko said.

"We can't work out why some people drink and drive despite all the warnings including roadside message boards.

"We know people are out there drink-driving and we want to catch them before they have an accident.

"We're disappointed with the high numbers of drink-drivers we caught in this most recent campaign.

"These operations will continue."

Five of those caught were P-platers.

"This is becoming a concern. Generally we don't catch many P-platers, but for some reason there is a trend where they're starting to drink and drive," Sgt Patacko said.

"We always try to work a step ahead of them."

Of the 24 charges, 10 were for high range offences. The highest reading was .205, more than four times the legal limit.

One driver was caught travelling at 136km/hour in a 100km/h zone on the Pacific Highway at Corindi Beach and returned a reading of .170, police allege.

"We'd be happy if we went out there and got none. Also, people are trying to use the back streets," Sgt Patacko said.

Police laid charges against 12 other motorists for a variety of offences, detected 13 speedsters and issued 60 tickets.

"In one incident a car overtook an unmarked police car over unbroken lines on the Eastern Dorrigo Way, continued to cut corners and when negotiating a right-hand bend, was going too fast and hit an embankment," Sgt Patacko said.

"The driver returned a negative breath-test."



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