Driver was six times over limit

By SAMANTHA HEALY

WHEN police responded to a car-park collision at a Murwillumbah fast-food restaurant, they never expected the driver to blow close to six times over the legal alcohol limit.

And chances are the 45-year old driver from Murwillumbah probably did not expect that a hunger attack would lead to a court date.

On Thursday night, just hours before police launched Operation Slow Down, a state-wide crackdown on driving offences over the long weekend, Murwillumbah officers breathalysed the man involved in a minor crash in the town's KFC restaurant car park.

The man blew .275 prescribed content of alcohol (PCA), nearly six times the legal alcohol limit, a blood alcohol level which would render the average person unconscious.

Geoff Togo, Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer and former Traffic Offenders Program co-ordinator, said a driver with a blood alcohol reading of .275, would find it difficult to function let alone get behind the wheel.

"They would most likely be falling all over the place," Mr Togo said. "It's an incredibly dangerous level and absolutely outrageous. "We've had a lot of high-range PCAs, but that would be up there with the highest. There's absolutely no excuse."

But the fast-food fender bender, was not the only outrageous driving charge police came across over the weekend. Early Monday morning, police stopped a 20-year-old Coolangatta man on Kennedy Drive.

The unsupervised learner-driver, registered a blood alcohol reading of .135. Both drivers were caught during the Labor Day long weekend traffic blitz, Operation Slowdown.

Meanwhile on Sunday, police in Byron Bay were conducting roadside breath tests just after midnight when they indicated to a driver to pull over.

The driver, a 28-year-old Byron Bay man, refused to stop, leading police on a 10 minute pursuit. Highway patrol officers used road spikes to stop the man, who blew .160 PCA. He was charged with a high range PCA, failing to stop and dangerous driving. On Sunday, Tweed highway patrol detected a Kingscliff motorbike rider travelling at 147 kilometres an hour in an 80 kilometre per hour zone at Nunderi.

During Operation Slowdown, Tweed/Byron Local Area Command caught 23 drink drivers and 20 other driving-related fines were issued. Fifty-three drivers were issued with speeding fines, 16 infringements were issued for seatbelt offences and 94 tickets were issued for various other offences including the use of mobile phones while driving and incorrect placement of P-plates.

"The results of this operation are disappointing to say the least," Senior Constable John Mulhearn said.

"What this means is that we are doing our job, catching them, that they are out there.

"But our offences have exceeded the ratio of drink-driving to breath tests again. For every 36 drivers, one will be over the limit."



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