Police axe random breath-testing amid coronavirus concerns

Close to 0.5 per cent of the 2.8 million random breath tests done in NSW last year were positive.

Close to 0.5 per cent of the 2.8 million random breath tests done in NSW last year were positive. Photo: AAP

Police forces across Australia have suspended high-volume random breath-testing of motorists due to the widening coronavirus outbreak.

Police in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia said mass tests for drugs and alcohol – such as from booze buses – would not be conducted for the foreseeable future.

“The decision has been made to minimise health risks to Queensland Police Service (QPS) officers and the community,” Queensland Police said in a statement that echoed the other states’ police forces.

“Road safety continues to be a significant priority for the QPS. The QPS will continue to undertake random breath and drug testing through high visibility mobile patrols.”

The move is designed to help close the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

All police forces will instead boost mobile patrols to conduct random testing of drivers for alcohol and drugs.

NSW Police announced on Tuesday it would follow its Queensland colleagues.

The decision was made by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott, with a statement saying “officers will use their discretion to determine the viability of conducting stationary RBT and RDT”.

Mobile patrols will continue.

Victoria Police said also said mobile breath tests would still be conducted across the state.

“We don’t want the community to be under any misapprehension that we’re not out there testing or not out there trying to enforce road rules. This is just a different way of doing them,” a spokeswoman said.

She said Victoria Police wanted to be “as visible as we can be to the community” in coming weeks to provide reassurance.

“We want to reassure the community that public order is being enforced by police,” she said.

“We are here to keep the community safe as they move about.”

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