By TOBY WALKER
DRIVERS on the Lower Clarence are continuing to break drink-driving laws at an alarming rate.
Between last Thursday and Saturday night, Clarence Valley highway patrol officers netted 14 drink- drivers, the majority of them registering mid- to high-range blood alcohol levels.
It was back to the 'bad old days', according to Senior Constable Bret Loveday, who estimated 62 drivers had been detected drink-driving in the Lower River over five separate weekend operations since last year.
Reflecting trends noticed in previous operations, the highest number of drivers were detected on Thursday and Friday nights. Last Thursday six drivers were charged with drink-driving at Maclean.
Another seven were found over the limit on Friday night when police moved the operation to Yamba.
It would seem Lower River residents were aware of the heavy police presence by Saturday night, with only one person charged with drink-driving. Twelve of the 14 people charged were men while nine of that 14 had their licences automatically suspended for registering a mid-range PCA reading or higher.
"What can you say?" said Sen Const Loveday.
"We ran the last operation over December ... and it looked like the charges were tailing off a bit toward the end of the year but now we're back up to the rates we were getting when we started doing this down river."
As a result of the operation, a 26-year-old Brisbane man will front Maclean Local Court on April 12 after he was seen overtaking traffic over double lines and around blind corners on the Pacific Highway.
A truck driver alerted police to the man's silver Barina being driven south. He was seen overtaking vehicles at high speed and driving dangerously between Harwood Bridge and Shark Creek.
He was eventually pulled over at Gallaghers Road and questioned by police, who allegedly found the man reeking of alcohol.
He was arrested and taken to Maclean Police Station. The man underwent breath analysis which returned a high-range blood alcohol reading of 0.160. He was charged with driving in a dangerous manner, negligent driving and drink-driving.
Despite the numbers of drivers detected, Sen Const Loveday said the blitz had been successful in lowering the number of alcohol-related accidents.
"Maybe we're just getting them before they crash," he said.