Record to be ashamed of
THE Tweed-Byron region looks set to be named once again as the state's worst drink-driving area, with new statistics revealing 950 motorists were caught driving under the influence in 2007. Tweed/Byron Highway Patrol Sergeant Bill Darnell said the alarming annual figures meant the Tweed would likely be named the worst in the state. This region has a stranglehold on the disgraceful title, recording the highest number of drink drivers in New South Wales five times since 2000. "It's what we expect, so it's no surprise," a disappointed Sgt Darnell said yesterday. With the region's drink-driving%figures reaching 833 in 2006, the 2007 figures have seen an increase of almost 120 offenders. The holiday drink-driving number was yesterday raised to 64 with a 17-year-old learner driver being among five offenders detected with an%excessive blood-alcohol reading. In the second incident of its kind in 10 days, the 17-year-old local man was caught without an experienced driver in the car and registering a blood alcohol reading of 0.03. It is illegal for L and P-plate drivers to have any alcohol in their blood while driving. On Saturday, December 22, another 17-year-old unaccompanied learner was caught driving at Banora Point with a blood alcohol reading of 0.15. Sgt Darnell said he was disappointed to see people were still taking risks despite being warned about increased police presence over the holidays. "It's pretty common knowledge that there are plenty of us around, so to still make that detection, I'd say it's disappointing," he said. Police conducted 237 roadside breath tests on the Pacific Highway at Banora Point and on Tweed Coast Road at Cabarita yesterday, nabbing five drink-drivers and issuing 22 infringement notices. A 22-year-old local man recorded the highest blood-alcohol reading for the day at 0.135. Sgt Darnell said Tweed Police detected, on average, one drink driver in every 30 tested. "If you drive past 200 cars at a hit of one in 30, you'll pass seven drink-drivers," he said. Police have so far conducted 4157 breath tests as part of Operation Safe Arrival, which began at midnight on Thursday December 20 and continues until midnight on Friday. On day 11 of Operation Safe Arrival the state's road toll remained at six, which was nine fewer deaths than at the same time last year. Overall, a total of 325,984 breath tests have been conducted throughout the state, with 1003 charges laid.