The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has announced changes to the drink drive rehabilitation scheme (DDRS).
The changes offer more consistent quality standards and wider availability of courses, as well as transferring the full cost to the user rather than the taxpayer.
DDRS courses aim to help offenders recognise the problems associated with drink-driving and address their behaviour.
Courts can refer drink-drive offenders who have been disqualified from driving for at least 12 months to an approved DDRS education course. Successful completion of the course can reduce the period of disqualification by up to one quarter.
Shifting costs from the taxpayer to the offender
Road Safety Minister, Stephen Hammond, said:
We are determined to tackle the menace of drink driving and rehabilitation courses are an extremely effective way of ensuring drivers who have committed the offence of drink driving in the first place do not repeat their error.
These changes will make it easier for courts to place offenders on these courses as well as ensuring more consistent standards and shifting the costs from the taxpayer to the offender.
Reducing the likelihood of re-offending
Alastair Peoples, DSA Chief Executive, said:
This scheme increases offenders’ appreciation of the risks involved in their behaviour and the importance of separating driving from their consumption of alcohol.
The measures we have announced today will enhance the integrity and thus the potential success of the scheme. In turn, the likelihood of offenders re-offending is reduced with all the social and economic benefits that brings.
A new course approvals process has been introduced and took effect on Monday 24 June 2013. Improvements include:
- the scheme being updated with a prescribed course syllabus consistent with DSA’s national driving standards that set out what is needed to be a safe and responsible driver
- a risk-based quality assurance process to ensure that course providers are consistently delivering courses of the required standard
- administration and quality assurance costs moving from the taxpayer to the offender
Encouraging take up
The scheme has also been opened up to new providers and the minimum course fee removed in order to encourage take up and innovation.
In 2012, around 45,000 offenders were referred to courses by the courts with nearly 24,000 successful completions.
The changes to the DDRS work alongside the government’s other measures to tackle drink-driving like making, from 1 June this year, the most dangerous drink-drivers pass a medical before they’re allowed back on the roads.