The Northern Irish Government has announced a change to legislation which will automatically offer those convicted of drink drive offences the opportunity to undertake rehabilitation training.
The move, announced by infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon on 25 June, is designed to tackle drink driving re-offending rates.
At present referral to the rehabilitation course is at the discretion of the court. However the change to the law will make referral automatic – unless for special reasons the court decides attendance would be inappropriate.
Anyone who completes the approved rehabilitation training, known as the Course for Drink Drive Offenders, will also have their disqualification period reduced by up to 25%.
Nichola Mallon said: “The challenge to curb drink driving is not only about enforcement – it is also about education. I want to make sure people who are convicted of drink driving learn from their experience and – crucially – do not go on to offend again.
“These courses are crucial in making a positive difference, not only for the individual offenders who complete the training, but also for the wider community sharing the use of the roads.
“While the change in legislation will make referral to the course automatic, the decision to enrol will remain voluntary. That said, based on the current level of take up, this change has the potential to more than double the number of course participants.”
Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure has commissioned a number of reconviction studies to examine the impact and value of the course in reducing re-offending.
The most recent study demonstrates that people who have completed a course are less likely to reoffend than those who have not attended.