Sergeant Marty Arnold says police are working to combat the problem of drink driving with young driver education programs and random breath-testing, but says young people need to look out for their mates.
Sergeant Marty Arnold says police are working to combat the problem of drink driving with young driver education programs and random breath-testing, but says young people need to look out for their mates. Scottie Simmonds

Bundy's drink drive disgrace

THE typical drink driver caught in Bundaberg is male, 21 years old and more than twice the legal limit.

According to figures provided by Bundaberg Courthouse, more than 260 people have been prosecuted this year for drink or drug-driving offences this year.

They ranged from 17-year-old P-platers to a 75-year-old man, but men aged 20 to 30 made up more than a third of the total.

With eight of the region's nine fatal car crashes this year involving alcohol, Bundaberg's top traffic cop has pleaded with youngsters to do their mates a favour and stop them from drinking and driving.

Traffic Branch officer in charge Sergeant Marty Arnold said younger drivers often did not realise how long alcohol took to leave the body.

“They don't realise that you can still be 0.05% the next morning,” he said.

“It's when you start seeing the ones who are double the limit — they are the most dangerous because their judgement is impaired enough that they thought it was okay to drive in the first place.”

The figures showed more than half the drivers were twice the limit or over, and nearly a third were three times over.

Sgt Arnold said police were working to combat the problem with young driver education programs and random breath-testing, but he believed the biggest factor was getting people to look out for their drunken mates.

“We can fight it as much as we want, but every generation creates a new legion of drink-drivers,” he said.

“Friends have got to stand up and say, ‘I'm taking your keys'. They might think it's dobbing, but that will save someone's life.”

Bundaberg drink-drivers were disqualified for an average of 14 months this year, which crash victim Dianne Carr said was not enough.

“There needs to be more serious consequences for drink-drivers,” said Mrs Carr, who had to relearn how to walk after she was hit by a drink-driver while riding a bike in 2008. While the majority of Bundy's prosecuted drivers were male, about 16% were women, in what Professor Jake Najman said was a symptom of an alarming trend.

Director of the University of Queensland's Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre, Prof Najman said the low cost of alcohol and an increase in binge-drinking correlated with the surge in drink-drivers.

“You can buy a bottle of wine for $2, which is cheaper than a Coke,” he said.

“We can't target drinking, but we can target drink-driving. We have to create a realistic fear that you are going to be apprehended, or you could kill someone, if you drink and drive.”

Drink drive stats

Most commonly caught offenders: men aged 21.

Average blood-alcohol content: 0.110%.

Worst repeat offender: Vicki Lee Sheave, 31, Agnes Water (three times).

Longest sentence: Jason Brian Pettitt, 35, Childers (disqualified for two years, sentenced to nine months in prison)



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