A magistrate says it is “extraordinary” Maryborough police officers do not have access to drug testing kits.
Magistrate Jennifer Tregent made the comments in the Maryborough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after hearing a man avoided a drug test despite being caught with five grams of ice after a high-speed crash.
The court heard Maryborough officers do not have the capacity to carry out drug tests themselves, and must request assistance from Bendigo and Ballarat members should they suspect someone is drug affected.
Only highway patrol members carry the kits, based at major regional stations.
Ms Tregent said the decision not to test the man for drugs was frustrating, given the resultant discovery of at least $2000 worth of ice, two snap lock bags of cannabis and four ecstasy tablets.
“I just find it extraordinary,” she said.
The comments came after Police Association secretary Ron Iddles told Fairfax Media roadside drug testing kits were a basic tool for police, particularly in the lead up to the Anzac Day long weekend.
He said officers needed to be fully equipped.
“Test kits might cost money but drug drivers cost lives,” he said.
Victoria Police defended its roadside drug testing policy, with the state having the highest number of drug tests each year with 100,000 kits with 25 highway patrol teams.
Maryborough police members did not suspect the man was drug affected after the crash in Talbot, south of Maryborough, on November 24.
Brent Allen Gilmour, 27, formerly of Maryborough, pleaded guilty to the possession and use of ice, cannabis and ecstasy after he disposed of the drugs in grassland near the side of road after the crash. He also faced driving while disqualified charges.
The court heard Gilmour slammed into the back of a ute after a dip at 6.40am.
His car flipped onto its roof and slide 25 to 30 metres, while the ute was spun 180 degrees. Both drivers avoided serious injury.
Gilmour checked on the other driver before fleeing the scene on foot, discarding his drugs in grassland near the side of the road.
He was intercepted by police, who did not suspect he was drug affected given his demeanor.
The court heard Gilmour was smoking one to 1.5 grams of ice and seven grams of cannabis per day at the height of his drug use – a habit which escalated after he moved to Maryborough from Melbourne.
He has stopped his drug use after he suffered a badly injured leg in a separate incident.
Gilmour was convicted and fined $1500.
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