DRUG impaired drivers have been blasted by a Warrnambool magistrate as being self-indulgent and a danger to all motorists.
Cynthia Toose said south-west drug users were simply not getting the message that it was illegal to drive with illicit substances in their systems.
One offender, a former interstate truck driver with an almost impeccable driving record, caused a head-on collision near Garvoc that endangered the lives of three people.
He's expected to be tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket as insurance won't cover the cost of the vehicles involved or extensive medical bills.
I would not have got in my ute if I felt under the influence or incapable of driving. I’m not a dill driver.Julian Bellamy, who caused a head-on accident in a 100km/h zone near Garvoc
In a separate case, a third-time drug driver had to be told he faced serving jail time before he agreed to support through a community corrections order.
And another drug user refused a drug test because his grandfather was watching on.
Then this week a 49-year-old drug impaired Warrnambool woman was charged with seven offences after driving up Raglan Parade the wrong way early on Tuesday morning.
Senior police officers were left shaking theirs heads because of her extremely dangerous driving behaviour.
"The reality is that the message is not getting out to the community," Ms Toose said.
"Australia-wide it's been a tragic Christmas holiday period due to the loss of life on the roads.
"The people in the Gravoc accident were lucky they didn't lose their lives.
"It's very clear - if you use drugs you can't drive,” she said.
Warrnambool police Acting Inspector Steve Thompson said that in the last seven months of last year, 30 per cent of drivers tested for drugs tested positive in both targeted and random tests.
He said 380 preliminary oral fluid drug tests were conducted with 112 positive results.
The main two illicit drugs detected were cannabis and methyl amphetamine, known as ice.
"Drug-impaired drivers are often found to be engaging in a range of other risk-taking behaviours on our roads, including combined alcohol-drug use, distraction offences and non-compliance with seat belt, licensing and registration offences," he said.
"These factors generally elevate their likelihood of being involved in a collision.
"Police across the south-west are committed to an ongoing campaign to reduce the number of drug impaired drivers using our roads.
“If anyone has any information on persons they suspect to be driving while drug impaired please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000," he said.
The magistrate said those who used drugs and drove would be appropriately dealt with by courts.
In four cases of drug-related driving offending, Ms Toose imposed fines equal to about $7500 and she banned one Warrnambool man from driving for four years.
Julian Bellamy, 31, of Daltons Road, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty to careless driving, driving an unregistered car and driving under the influence of drugs after an accident in a 100km/h zone near Garvoc mid last year.
He was convicted and fined $3000 and as a result of the accident had to have his spleen removed.
The magistrate said that Bellamy had been a professional driver and she was at a loss to understand why he would drive with ice in his system.
She said no penalty couldn’t reverse what happened and the victims had been through significant trauma and loss.
“There has to be a message sent to the community. At the moment that message is not being received,” Ms Toose said.
Bellamy said he he used a "tiny amount of powdery stuff" the night before the accident on the evening of July 2 last year, but couldn't explain he was on the wrong side of the Princes Highway at Garvoc.
He tested positive to ice, saying he ate the drug.
One of the people in the other car suffered serious chest, neck and leg injuries as well as lacerations from countless glass shards.
A victim impact statement explained how the two victims’ lives had been shattered by the collision.
Bellamy said his ute’s registration expired only a couple of days before the accident and it was in “perfect condition”.
“I know I mucked up, but geez I’ve learnt my lesson,” he said. “I know the other people involved were badly affected, 100 per cent. My heart goes out to them. The previous night I did do something wrong.
“But, I would not have got in my ute if I felt under the influence or incapable of driving. I’m not a dill driver.”
Bellamy said he had previously been an interstate truck driver with a clean record before the accident.
“I own it. Since the accident I’ve been through a lot,” he said, explaining his family had previously been impacted by a death on the roads.
The experienced driver said he was currently not employed.
Joel Best, 24, of Tara Street, Warrnambool, also pleaded guilty to drug driving and was ordered to do 60 hours of community work after being warned he faced serving jail time if he continued to refuse being placed on an order.
He was initially assessed for a CCO but then asked for a fine.
Ms Toose was far from impressed.
“I don’t think you get it. You need to rethink about your participation in an order or I’ll rethink about imprisonment,” she said.
“You do not understand the gravity or your situation,” she said
Police picked up the P-plater after he moved his car at a Dennington property during August last year.
It was the third time he tested positive to driving under the influence of drugs.
Best said he didn’t think there would be anything in his system and expressed surprise he had tested positive.
The magistrate said Best was precisely the sort of person that courts did not want on the roads.
“You seem to have a problem with drugs,” Ms Toose said, adding that Best had a significant record of driving offences.
Best was also banned from driving for eight months and told if he came back to court for drug driving or driving when banned he was likely to be jailed.
Phillip Glade, 23, of Hakea Court, was fined $1500 and banned from driving for four years after refusing a drug test.
A solicitor told court Glade had been a recreational ice user for between 18 months and two years when he was pulled over by police outside his hom.
He lived with his grandparents and they didn’t know he was using drugs.
Glade refused to do a drug test while his grandfather watched on.
“My Pops there looking out the window,” he told police officers at the time.
He was banned for four years because of prior court appearances.
Graham Kavanagh, 48, of Goodall Street, Warrnambool, said he drove under the influence of drugs because he needed fuel for his home generator.
He was fined $1200 and disqualified from driving for six months.
In August last year Kavanagh tested positive to ice and cannabis use while driving when his registration was expired and in November he was also found with 23 grams of cannabis down the front of his shorts.
Kavanagh told police he had been smoking cannabis for the best part of 20 years but was surprised he tested positive because he hadn’t used drugs that day.
He said he didn’t have much money as he owned three Great Dane dogs.
The magistrate said it was a major concern that Kavanagh was driving with both ice and cannabis in his system and he was a danger to all other road users.