THE silly season has come to Orange early with 17 drivers fronting Orange Local Court yesterday for drink driving.
“We come across people at this time of year who drink and drive who we never usually see and who have never been in trouble with the law,” NSW Police Association Orange branch spokesman Tony Borland said.
“If it’s busy now, wait until the end of January when people who are caught over Christmas come before the courts.
“It really is the silly season because many people who are out at Christmas parties make a decision they normally wouldn’t and that is to drive, not realising their decision-making is impaired because of the alcohol they have consumed.”
In court yesterday Magistrate Terry Lucas had to repeatedly consider the submissions from solicitors pleading the case for their clients, who came to the court with testimonials and references showing they were leaders in the community, but had been caught drink driving.
Mr Lucas told many of the offenders he was able to exercise his powers under the law for low range offences and for people with exemplary records who had come before the court, placingt them on a Section 10 bond with no conviction was recorded.
However, the bonds came with a warning from the bench.
“Drive around after 11o’clock in Orange after you’ve been drinking and you are sure to get pulled over for a random breath test. Just don’t drink and drive,” he said.
However, Solicitor Michael Madden, said finding alternative transport in the bush was problematic.
“I know you’ve heard this all before,” he said to Mr Lucas.
“But the lawmakers don’t take into consideration what it is like for people living in the bush where your licence is your livelihood.
“They don’t give a damn about the bush and don’t supply us with trains or buses.”
When it came to high range offences yesterday Mr Lucas showed no leniency, imposing heavy fines and lengthy disqualifications up to three years.
Mr Borland said the issues with alcohol in Orange and other communities goes far beyond getting behind the wheel of a car after making a poor decision to do so.
“Overwhelmingly the bulk of our workload as police officers is related to violence caused by alcohol,” he said.
“It is what our officers face every day.”