Driving while affected by alcohol is a significant cause of road trauma in the community. Significant resources have been devoted to reducing the incidence of drink drinking, including ongoing enforcement efforts by Victoria Police. When Victoria Police officers are themselves detected driving in excess of the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit, it undermines the message that drink driving is wrong, as well as the community’s confidence in the authority of Victoria Police to uphold the law.
To help ensure the public has confidence in how Victoria Police fulfils its duties including adhering to drink driving laws, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) examined drink driving detections of Victoria Police officers and disciplinary outcomes over the period 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2015 (the sample period).
IBAC’s analysis identified the typical sworn Victoria Police officer detected for drink driving is a male senior constable with an average of 15 years’ service. Most officers are detected off duty while driving a private vehicle and via a random breath testing (RBT) site, with a reading between 0.050 and 0.099. An officer detected drink driving is likely to keep their job but receive some form of sanction such as a fine, good behaviour bond or counselling.
The analysis identified the number of officers detected drink driving over the 15 year period has steadily declined. However, other key findings are of concern including:
- the median BAC reading of officers detected drink driving has steadily increased
- the proportion of officers detected after a collision has increased
- the number of officers dismissed for drink driving has increased.
Based on its data analysis, IBAC has made a number of recommendations to Victoria Police to strengthen its efforts to discourage officers from drink driving and to respond appropriately when officers are detected driving over the legal BAC limit. IBAC acknowledges that Victoria Police has done some work in this area, however vigilance is required to ensure police officers consistently model the behaviour expected of all members of the community around alcohol consumption and driving.