Digital personal breathalysers have become popular among motorists, but Coffs Harbour police warn the readings they provide sho
Digital personal breathalysers have become popular among motorists, but Coffs Harbour police warn the readings they provide sho

Dumb drivers back to school

By CRAIG McTEAR

IF you've been caught drinkdriving in Coffs Harbour, you can expect to find yourself back at school.

The PCYC in Bray Street runs the Traffic Education Program for motorists who wind up in trouble with the law.

About 95 per cent of participants are drink-drivers, while the remainder have been nabbed for other traffic offences.

Courses run every Thursday night for six weeks and attendance is normally by referral from your solicitor or the local court, and you'll be expected to complete assignments along the way.

"We want to educate participants to not drink and drive at all. We say even if you've only had one drink, you shouldn't drive," Senior Constable Matthew Benson said.

"The aim is to provide them with the knowledge to make better decisions in the future."

The dangers of drinking and driving are reinforced through a series of presentations by highway patrol police, crime scene officers, intensive care doctors, ambulance officers, driving instructors, and representatives from the NRMA, the RTA and the Coffs Harbour Head Injury Unit.

"We've had some very positive feedback from participants. Some have said it should be provided at all schools, and that people should be made to do it when going for their licence," Const. Benson said.

"Each course normally has 35 to 40 people, but sometimes we've had as many as 90.

"Less than one per cent of participants are repeat offenders."

n The do-it-yourself approach after having a few drinks is becoming more widespread.

You can blow into a machine at your local watering hole or carry a personal breathalyser with you for an indication of how much alcohol is in your system before driving.

"They are good for advisory purposes but you wouldn't rely on them, particularly if you're approaching the legal limit," Senior Constable Wally Brooks said.

The AlcoLimit digital personal breathalyser, which costs about $80, is one such device. But it comes with a warning ? 'the only true reading of a person's blood alcohol concentration is a blood test'.

Coffs Harbour pharmacist Mark Gilsenan says the product has attracted interest from parents wanting them for their older teens who have to drive the day after a party, or the young drivers themselves.

Interestingly, most have been female.

"We sell a couple a week," Mr Gilsenan said.

One driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said he and some of his colleagues used the product regularly so they wouldn't be caught out.

"We need our licence too much," he said.

"It's amazing how little you have to drink before the reading starts to edge up."



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