On-the-spot fines and licence suspensions for first time offenders

New drink/drug-drive penalties from May 20

Were you aware that from May 20 on-the-spot fines of $560 or more and three-month immediate licence suspensions for first offence low-range drink and drug- driving come into force.

The measures are part of the NSW Government's $250 million package for enhanced enforcement of road rules ... these also include 50 additional highway patrol officers in regional areas, roadside alcohol testing and a doubling of mobile drug testing.

The demerit points for mobile phone offences have increased from four to five plus following a two-year trial, the Minimum Passing Distance Rule for cyclists has now come into force - is one metre at speeds less than 60kph and 1.5 metres at speeds above that.

Children under 16 years are now allowed to ride bicycles on the footpath, up from the current limit of under 12 years, with a supervising adult also permitted to ride with them.

Roadside drug testing will be doubled to reach the target of 200,000 tests annually by 2020.

Other changes that are already in force:

The mandatory alcohol interlock program has been extended to middle-range drink driving first time offenders.

Vehicle sanctions can now be applied for high-risk, repeat drink driving offenders.

And cocaine has been added to the roadside mobile drug testing program - a first for Australia.

This last law was welcomed by Greens Police and Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge.

"I welcome cocaine being included in the roadside drug testing scheme," Mr Shoebridge said.

"Its original exclusion and the continued exclusion of benzodiazepines however shows how skewed the drug driving policy of the NSW government is.

"It focuses on a handful of illegal drugs rather than keeping drug affected drivers off the road."

He said that even with the inclusion of cocaine the roadside drug testing scheme remained deeply flawed.

"Unlike breath testing for alcohol, it does not test for impairment, just the presence of a substance. Cannabis consumed days, or even a week, ago can still trigger a positive test.

"Police are testing and charging people who smoked a joint last week but letting drivers impaired by benzodiazepines slip through tests undetected."

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