A MAGISTRATE has questioned why drug drivers can't be imprisoned after a Warrnambool driver pleaded guilty to four such offences.
Andrew Fortune, 50, of Otway Road, this week pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to four counts of drug driving and also breaching his bail.
He has another two counts of drug driving pending - which are awaiting analysis confirmation through forensic drug tests.
Magistrate Cynthia Toose said it was interesting that she had no capacity to jail Fortune for drug driving, especially when the community was deeply concerned about carnage on the roads.
"If you had been involved in a fatality on the roads you would be facing serving many years of imprisonment," Ms Toose told Fortune.
She has regularly commented that drug impaired drivers were just as capable of causing fatalities on the roads as drink drivers.
Police pulled over Fortune driving at 10.30am on November 11, at 10.29am on December 4, 12.14pm on January 16 and 2.13pm on February 9.
On April 4 he failed to appear at count, a warrant was issued and he was arrested and bailed with the condition he not drive.
On Friday last week he was seen driving on Otway Road.
Fortune has usually tested positive to both cannabis and methamphetamine use.
Defence counsel Amanda Chambers said Fortune was clearly in the sights of police and had spent a couple of days in the Warrnambool police station cells for breaching his bail.
She said her client openly admitted using cannabis and ice, having been a dope smoker for years and more recently taking up ice.
The solicitor said Fortune thought every time he was tested that the drugs would have been out of his system when he drove.
It’s accepted told that ice can remain in a driver's system for a fortnight after use and cannabis up to 28 days.
The magistrate said that Fortune had been a long-time dope smoker and had regrettably gone up the scale to using ice.
Fortune's driver's licence was cancelled for 12 months and he was placed on a 12-month community corrections order with the condition he do 120 hours of community work.
The magistrate said that Fortune was a mature person and if he wanted to do something about his drugs issues it was up to him.
A spokesman for Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan blamed police when asked why magistrates did not have the power to lock up drug drivers.
He said if Fortune had been charged by officers with driving under the influence, driving while impaired or combined drink and drug driving that those offences carried terms of imprisonment ranging from three to 18 months.
“We’ve just introduced the toughest drink and drug driving laws of any jurisdiction in Australia,” the spokesman said.
“From April 30 licence bans for drivers detected with illicit substances in their system increased from three to six months and from six to 12 months for repeat offenders.
“Importantly, we’ve also introduced a mandatory behaviour change program to address the underlying causes of drug drivers dangerous behaviour – the program will also refer participants to professional support and assistance where it is needed,” he said.