Tough measures introduced for drug and alcohol-affected drivers

MID-RANGE drink-driving offenders will have to blow into a breathalyser to prove they are sober before turning the keys to their cars and the speed camera network on the state's roads will be turned on to catch people using their mobile phones behind the wheel as part of tough state government reforms announced on Tuesday.

After a horror holiday road toll, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said tragedy had been all too common in recent months. 

“All of us have been touched by the heartbreak of the unnecessary loss of lives on our roads," she said.

It will be mandatory for people convicted of mid-range drink-driving offences to have interlock devices fitted to their cars, which will require the driver to blow into a breathalyser device connected to the car's ignition before it will start.

Low-range drink-drivers will be able to be fined by police or have their licences suspended on-the-spot instead of court dates if they elect not to contest the offence. 

The toughest penalties for drug-affected driving will be brought in line with penalties for drink-driving. 

The premier also said the government would look at the option of turning its network of speed cameras onto drivers breaking the law by using their mobile phones behind the wheel. 

The government will also introduce 11 more heavy-vehicle average speed camera locations and could enable existing point-to-point cameras to catch speeding cars.

"I'm never going to say never. We always have to be on our toes," Ms Berejiklian said.

 "We've not seen fit to do that [in this package]. But I'm not ruling it out."

Ms Berejiklian said the government would introduce legislation for the measures in this session of parliament. 

Canobolas Local Area Command Acting Inspector Yonneka Hill said anything helping police to do their job was welcome.

She said a statewide operation would occur on Wednesday, targeting vehicle compliance, mobile phone use and drivers not keeping left, with another operation targeted at drink-drivers later this month.

“I can say we’ve made it a focus, especially in the school holiday period, to ensure we do a lot of [random breath tests] and [random drug tests], and all police do it, not just highway patrol,” she said. 

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