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Hunter Drug Driving Convictions Soar

We have some of the highest rates in NSW

Hunter Drug Driving Convictions Soar

Photo: Fairfax Media

The state government's move to increase roadside drug tests has tripled the number of motorists being busted for driving under the influence of illicit substances.

The number of charges finalised in court rose 320 per cent between the financial years of 2014/15 and 2015/16, from 2331 to 9808, according to a 
Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report.

The Hunter recorded some of the state's highest rates of drug driving convictions.

The Hunter Valley (excluding Newcastle) has a rate of 126.5 convictions per 100,000 people, while Newcastle-Lake Macquarie has a rate of 103.5.

That compares to the NSW average of 92.9 convictions per 100,000 people.

The state government announced in December 2015 it would triple roadside testing to about 100,000 tests a year.

"It seems likely that the increase in charges is a reflection of increased law enforcement activity rather than an increase in actual drug driving," the report states.

The figures show men are most likely to be caught drug driving, accounting for just under 80 per cent of defendants. Almost three-quarters were aged
between 18 and 39.

The report showed the rate of prosecution was two times higher in regional NSW than the state average, while the Richmond Tweed area had a conviction rate five times above the average.

Most offenders - some 62.5 per cent - received a fine with the average penalty being $495.

- with AAP