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We have a drinking problem ... and it's driving us to death

WE ARE killing ourselves on the roads and forcing police to take desperate measures.

Statistics show more than 50% of fatal road accidents on the Sunshine Coast involve driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, leading police to believe our community has a shocking disregard for the consequences.

Senior Sergeant David Bradley, the officer in charge of the Sunshine Coast's prosecutors, said it was baffling that the anti-drink-driving message was failing to get through to motorists in the region.

Senior Sergeant Bradley, who moved from his job as senior prosecutor in Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast position six months ago, said he was "stunned" by the number of driving-under-the-influence offences.

"Statewide figures are much, much lower," he said.

Statistics point to a figure of about 36%.

"Last Monday night, 10 drink-drivers were picked up," Snr Sgt Bradley said.

"It wasn't even a Saturday night."

HE said an attitude seemed to be emerging that drink-driving was acceptable, despite the severe consequences to property, life and families.

"Some community members don't seem to be embarrassed.

"Sometimes it just seems like a rite of passage to them," Snr Sgt Bradley said.

While the whole of the Sunshine Coast must plead guilty to the alarming figures, police say Noosa is a shameful standout.

Noosa previously has lodged figures of an average 30 drunk or drugged driving offences a month - about one person a day.

Snr Sgt Bradley is also concerned at the leniency of sentencing.

He said that in Noosa Magistrates Court last week, only three convictions were recorded from 35 DUI appearances.

"Penalties are not necessarily reflecting criminality," he said.

This week in Noosa Magistrates Court, 18-year-old Kara Spurgeon, of Boreen Point, pleaded guilty to a blood alcohol reading of 0.128 - more than double the legal limit of 0.05.

The court was told that she was the designated driver of three friends "because she was the most fit to drive".

On the way home from a party the friends had attended, Ms Spurgeon crashed the vehicle into a tree.

Ms Spurgeon was fined $500 and disqualified from driving for three months.

No conviction was recorded against her.

Topics:  alcohol drink-driving driving police



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