Baffled police at wits' end as driving offences mount

DRINK drivers continue to plague the Tweed's roads, with scores of motorists getting booked in the first days of the New Year. A man stopped on Kennedy Drive on Friday returned a high-range blood-alcohol level of 0.20 -- four times over the legal limit.

Senior Constable John Mulhearn of the Tweed Highway Patrol said the man was stopped for an RBT about 5.10pm and police were appalled to discover how far over the limit he was.

"That is four times over the legal alcohol limit, which is just ridiculous for that time or any other time of the day," Snr Const Mulhearn said.

"It is just mind-boggling, and this is at a time when %parents and kids are on the road. We just worry that there is going to be another fatality." Police arrested 23 drivers over the legal alcohol limit on New Year's Day and they now believe the worst is yet to come.

"We worked it out, if we got 20 drink drivers every day of this year, we would end up with more than 7000," Snr Const Mulhearn said.

"With all the advertising out there and all the millions of dollars spent on it, people still aren't paying attention.

"We are just repeating ourselves now." Police were yesterday still conducting patrols as part of the holiday road safety campaign, Operation Safe Arrival, which ended last night.

During the campaign, motorists caught for speeding and seatbelt offences were hit with double demerit points.

Official figures for the operation will be released today. Snr Const Mulhearn yesterday said there were still more drink driving charges for the Tweed-Byron command waiting to be processed.

"The amount we are getting, we just can't keep up with putting them through the system," he said.

Last week, police expressed their concern at the number of young people found committing traffic offences, after several P-platers were booked drink driving and a number of learners were found driving unaccompanied over New Year.

"We aren't just talking about young drivers in their 20s, we are talking about P-platers -- 17, 18 and 19 years old -- and they just don't seem to give a damn," Snr Const Mulhearn said.

"They are going to lose their licence and get a criminal record and they just don't care. The bravado of these P-platers is unbelievable." In 2008, there were more than 1250 drink drivers caught on Tweed's roads, which was at least 250 more than there were in 2007.

Police are now worried about having the highest number of drink-driving charges in the state again in 2009.

But it is not just drink-drivers concerning police. They say drivers are still engaging in other dangerous practices. Snr Const Mulhearn said he was in Tyalgum for just two hours on Saturday and in that time caught four unlicensed drivers and found three unregistered cars on the road.

"Look, we are at our wits end here," he said. "We just don't know what to do."



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