NSW drug driving charges surge to all-time high

Posted: 31 May 2017 10:02 am
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Convicted offenders also likely to drive while disqualified.

The latest New South Wales crime statistics reveal that in just two years the number of people facing charges for drug-related driving offences more than tripled.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found 2,331 drug driving charges were finalised in the local court system during 2014/15. This figure rose a staggering 320% to total 9,808 in 2015/16.

The majority of offenders caught during this two year period were males (79.3%) aged 18-39 (72.4%).

The rate of prosecution in NSW is 93 per 100,000 people. However, in regional areas of the state, this figure was almost double (180 per 100,000). People living in the Richmond Tweed area, located just south of the NSW/QLD border, sustained some of the highest conviction rates, five times the state average.

While these figures are distressing, the rapid increase could be attributed to the expanding frequency and prevalence of mobile drug testing (MDT) by local police on New South Wales roads.

The overwhelming majority (98.3%) of drug drivers brought before a NSW court are found guilty. The most commonplace penalties are fines and Section 10 bonds (no conviction recorded). Around four fifths (80%) of guilty drivers also had their license temporarily disqualified.

Substantial increases in the number of license disqualifications over the past two years has resulted in greater numbers of unlicensed driving charges. The amount of convicted drug driving offenders caught driving while disqualified more than quadrupled in two years, from 133 in 2014/15 to 542 in 2015/16.

During the last financial year, the most common principal criminal offences across Australia were illicit drug use, sale and possession. According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics' recorded crime data, illicit drug offences made up one fifth (20%) of all national offences, constituting 83,160 offenders.

The ABS 2015/16 National Crime Victimisation Survey reports no substantial change to the rate of personal and household crime in Australia in the last year. However, the same statistics reveal that over the last seven years there has been a general decline in household crime and face-to-face assaults.

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