POLICE will conduct hundreds more drug tests in the North East this financial year as about one in three drivers return positive results.
Officers in the Wodonga, Wangaratta and Cobram regions have received a “significant” increase to the availability of roadside testing kits.
Wodonga Highway Patrol Sergeant Cameron Roberts said the area had one of the highest strike rates for drug drivers in the state.
“It’s a nice, generous increase,” he said.
“It’s certainly a significant issue out there.
“It is somewhat disturbing that people are driving amongst us with these illicit drugs in their system.
“I think the harder we try, the more we get.”
The roadside tests look for the presence of stimulant drugs like speed, ice and ecstasy, and marijuana, in the saliva of drivers.
Further tests are conducted if there is a positive roadside indication.
Those who are caught drink driving are also drug tested.
Statistics for the number of drivers caught this year were not available, but hundreds of drivers have been caught in previous years, with the numbers steadily increasing.
Sergeant Roberts said there hadn’t necessarily been an increase in the number of drug drivers getting behind the wheel, but police were getting better at catching them.
“Different substances impair drivers in different ways,” he said.
“All the studies show there is a level of impairment to varying degrees, depending on what’s in the system.
“These are substances that shouldn’t be in the system at any time.”
Sergeant Roberts said more people were aware of drug testing.
“The message is getting out there that we do it,” he said.
“There's still a fair percentage of people who it doesn't quite dawn on though.
"Having an increase is certainly going to allow us to conduct more tests.”
The tests can pick up certain drugs days after use.
Sergeant Roberts said the vast majority of drivers weren't surprised when they received a positive result.
Tougher penalties were introduced for drug driving in April.
According to the Transport Accident Commission, 41 per cent of drivers and motorbike riders killed on Victorian roads in the past five years had drugs in their system when tested.