Police are dismayed by the number of impaired drivers picked up during the first weekend of a road operation targeting patrons leaving country hotels.
Operation Respond was launched on Friday in a bid to reduce road trauma following four fatalities in two months.
Four people died between June 5 and August 5 in three separate collisions at Berrybank, Dixie and Cobden while another two men and three women were taken to hospitals for assessment and treatment.
In Dixie, the driver allegedly refused a lift from a bar tender at Terang's Wheatsheaf Hotel shortly before the fatal crash.
Investigations are continuing into whether alcohol was a contributing factor in all three collisions.
The tragedies have since sparked the four-month road operation, which will run every Friday and Saturday night and focus on licensed venues in remote communities.
The region's highway patrol units saturated the roads over the weekend, conducting roadside drug tests and more than 180 alcohol breath tests.
Police nabbed four drink-drivers and one drug-driver in the blitz.
That included a 42-year-old Portland man who blew .177, a 45-year-old Port Campbell man with a blood alcohol reading of .122, a 28-year-old Bunyip man who recorded .097 and a 36-year-old Cobden woman who blew .082.
The Portland man allegedly collided with a give way sign after leaving Portland's Royal Hotel about 2.30am.
Portland police Acting Sergeant Michael Vaughan said it was a disappointing result.
"Driving at close to three times the limit is unacceptable," he said.
"That accident could have been tremendously more serious with the driver potentially hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle.
"It's very lucky it was only a give way sign and that the driver was intercepted before he placed anyone else at risk."
The other three drink-drivers were intercepted between 8.30pm and 12.30am.
South-west police have recorded nearly one impaired driver per day in August, including a number of young offenders.
A 24-year-old Hamilton man blew .116 on August 1 while a 23-year-old Warrnambool woman recorded a reading of .165 on August 7.
Victoria Police data shows one in five drink-drivers across the state are people aged under 25, with 30 per cent of those admitting to consuming alcohol at a hotel or club.
South-west road safety adviser Senior Sergeant Matt Wheeler said police had no hesitation to remove drink-drivers from the road, even those only the slightest bit over.
"Our message is very simple - if you choose to drink too much and drive, you will be caught," he said.
"First time offenders who go even a little bit over the legal drinking limit face significant penalties, including fines, loss of licence and disqualification - and the penalties are significantly worse for higher readings and repeat offenders."
But Senior Sergeant Wheeler said the worst penalty of all was the potential loss of life.
"You do not want to be responsible for a collision that results in serious injury or death - the consequences are catastrophic," he said.
"It never gets easier delivering the horrific news to a mum, dad, husband or wife that their loved one has been killed in a road tragedy."
IN OTHER NEWS
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.