Mike Stevens | Jul 27, 2009

FOLLOWING LAST WEEK'S Operation Ardent road safety blitz, Victoria Police has released a report showing that inner Melbourne and the State's larger regional centres are Victoria's hot spots for drink driving.

The report, which lists the worst-offending suburbs and the number of drink drivers nabbed in each, showed Melbourne, with 469, and St Kilda, with 425 drink driving offenders caught this year, as top of the list.

Inspector for Road Policing Dennis Watson acknowledged that, with the highest concentration of licensed venues in Victoria, it was little surprise to see Melbourne and St Kilda top the list.

“While the list does not indicate where the driver was drinking, it’s safe to say many of the drunk drivers caught in Melbourne and St Kilda would have been drinking nearby," Mr Watson said.

Regional centres filling out the top 10 included Ballarat (317), Shepparton (238), Mildura (217) and Warrnambool (188), while Melbourne's satellite cities Frankston (226) and Dandenong (185) also figured prominently.

Senior Sergeant Patrick Cleary from the Ballarat TMU said the region's police officers were working to demonstrate that the idea that regional towns are easy places to get away with drink-driving "is nonsense".

“We know the local roads like the back of our hand. Drunk drivers who think they can take the rat-run of back streets to avoid booze buses will be caught by chase cars,” he said.

“There’s no hiding, especially in regional centres when the police have an intricate knowledge of the road network.”

“Country police can easily spot a car from out-of-town and almost have a sixth-sense when it comes to pulling over the drunk drivers.”

“I’m disappointed that more than 300 drivers lost their licences driving drunk in Ballarat,” Snr Sgt Cleary said.

The three-day Operation Ardent blitz saw more than 650 motorists caught for various traffic offences, with 54 nabbed for drink driving, and 41 for speeding more than 25km/h over the posted limit.

Victoria Police took to the internet during the blitz, using social networking website Twitter to broadcast the misdeeds of offenders caught during the operation.

[police bus photo: Chris Keating]

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