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Victoria, Australia police slam Facebook group for pointing out alcohol checkpoints

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Police in the Australian province of Victoria are slamming a Facebook group that posts locations of alcohol and drug checkpoints by calling it a “slap in the face” to those who die in drunk driving accidents.

Senior police officials are criticizing the Melbourne-based Facebook group called “Victorian Booze and Drug Buses” because the group is promoting drunk driving by telling motorists what areas to avoid.

Posting the areas where “booze buses” are happening is not illegal, but a police spokeswoman said it was “concerning [that] there are people who are willing [to] promote drink-driving in this manner.”

The Facebook group has been in existence for more than two years but police have recently caught wind of it. The page boasts more than 17,000 likes.

Page administrators defended it by writing that it does not encourage or support drunk driving but citizens “have the right to be informed and to know where they are.” By providing up-to-date locations, page administrators say if drivers know that there are checkpoints nearby, they might choose not to drive at all.

Members have shot back at police and support the group’s existence. “We citizens have a right to know where these booze buses are!!!,” wrote member Rick Hornberger. Another member said the group’s existence is within their rights of freedom of speech and information.

However, a string of anti-police comments have prompted the page administrators to issue a status update to “cool it” with the negative remarks about Victorian police. “We are a friendly community sharing information to keep our brothers and sisters safe and out of trouble,” the page said.

But it appears a mea culpa from the group won’t bring the page into the cops’ good graces. A spokeswoman said group members don’t know what it feels like to lose someone in a drunk driving accident.

"Clearly, people running this page have never felt the pain of losing a loved one or having someone they know seriously injured because someone thought it was OK to drink and drive,” said a police spokeswoman.

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