By Rowan Forster
Cardinia Highway Patrol has spearheaded a crackdown on drug drivers, nabbing more than 20 in the past week alone.
A Rye man, 24, fled Pakenham-based officers when given an oral fluid test – prompting a manhunt by the canine unit, while a 17-year-old learner driver tested positive for methamphetamine.
The harrowing discoveries served as a reminder to police, that drug driving remains rampant in the region.
Police said the rate of offences had doubled in recent weeks, likely due to testing being ramped up.
Young people were over represented in the busts, with at least a dozen of those charged being under 27.
In one instance, a 21-year-old male learner from Pakenham was caught speeding 20km/h over the speed limit, incorrectly displaying P-plates and not accompanied by an experienced driver – whilst also being under the influence of drugs.
During another, a 26-year-old female disqualified learner was nabbed drug-driving in an unregistered car while smoking next to her three-year-old child.
A Toyota Camry driven by a 28-year-old woman was also intercepted by police, sporting a smashed windscreen with four bald tyres.
In a preliminary oral fluid test, she returned a positive result but when asked to undertake an evidentiary test, she refused.
Officers have vowed to keep their foot on the throat of drivers using illegal drugs, brushing off complaints from people who feel they are being targeted after testing positive once.
Cardinia Highway Patrol’s Acting Senior Sergeant Glenn Dunn has long believed that driving under the influence is an issue in Melbourne’s south east suburbs.
“Drink driving has always been around,” he said,
“There seems to have been a cultural shift in younger people more towards drug driving that isn’t coming up during a breath test but does when they get drug tested.”
Sen Sgt Dunn also it is rare for somebody to be caught re-offending.
“Personally, I’ve never dealt with the same person twice, and I’ve been with Victoria Police for 15 years,” he said.