17 Hunter drivers penalised for drink driving during June Long Weekend double demerits period

Hunter Highway Patrol cluster supervisor Senior Sergeant Tony Grace
Hunter Highway Patrol cluster supervisor Senior Sergeant Tony Grace

Hunter drivers have recorded some of the state’s worst drink driving results during the June Long Weekend double demerits period, with 17 people returning a positive breath test reading.

The 17 positive returns came from almost 4000 tests conducted from Friday to Monday across the Hunter cluster, which includes Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock and the Upper Hunter.

In comparison, just five drink drivers were caught over the longer Easter Weekend double demerits operation from a slightly higher amount of tests.

Hunter Highway Patrol cluster supervisor Senior Sergeant Tony Grace said the local figures were 30 to 40 per cent higher than most other areas, with Tweed/Byron the only other place comparable to the Hunter.

The weekend statistics also come off the back of 43 incidents of drink driving across the Hunter in the month of May, in which there was no major targeted operation.

“It’s concerning,” Senior Sergeant Grace said. “It’s definitely something we’re going to address.

“These are just the ones we’ve caught, we’re not naive enough to think there weren’t others.”

Senior Sergeant Grace said there were huge risks that came with drink driving, which were further amplified by dangerous weather conditions such as the recent fog and rain.

“This has been an ongoing campaign for nearly 30 years,” he said.

“I’m really surprised with these numbers, particularly with the weather cooling off – people aren’t going out as much.

“We expect these kind of numbers around Christmas and New Years, but not now.”

Senior Sergeant Grace said in response to the results, drivers should expect to see a high-visibility road operation over the next few months targeting drink driving and speeding.

Meanwhile the other results from the long weekend, including speeding and general traffic infringements, were about average in comparison with other areas, Senior Sergeant Grace said.

Four people were also apprehended for drug driving across the Hunter during the blitz.

However, Senior Sergeant Grace was pleased with the behaviour of the majority of motorists, with no major collisions across the weekend.

“It’s not about how many tickets we write, it’s about people getting home safely,” he said.