The Steer Clear course, originally developed by the London Community Rehabilitation Company, has been part of the Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme since 1998. Government monitoring shows the Scheme reduces the re-offend rate by nearly 60%, making it an ideal disposal for Drink Driving offences, in conjunction with a disqualification period, fine, probation order, community service or custodial sentence, as appropriate.
For more information please see the full DVSA Technical Guidelines governing the operation of the Drink Drive Scheme.
Drink driving offences are legislated in the 1988 Road Traffic Offender’s Act, and the subsequent 1991 Road Traffic Act. The latter included provision for an experimental ‘Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme’ (DDRS).
The DDRS was subsequently introduced on a trial basis from 1993 to 1998 in 19 Courts across the UK. A report on the trial by the Transport Research Laboratory concluded that:
In 1999 the trial was upgraded to a permanent scheme available to all the courts in the UK. The particulars of the scheme are as laid out in the original 1991 Act.
In most cases, courts will offer drink drive offenders a place on a training scheme. The suitability criteria are that the offender must be at least 17 years old, a place on an approved course must be available, and the offer must be explained to the offender in plain English.
The offer is made during the sentencing hearing, and the offender must accept or decline it at that point. If the offender accepts, the hearing will end, and the offender is then asked to choose a training provider, after which the court will forward a completed referral order to the chosen training provider.
The referral order is signed by an Officer of the Court. It must state the amount of reduction in disqualification the offender will be eligible for on completion, the date on which a reduced ban would end, and the date by which the course must be completed.
Along with other providers, we recommend you advise your clients about the Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme in advance of their court hearing, if at all possible. In advising your client on the choice of provider, you should be sure of the quality of the course. For example, the Steer Clear course has been successfully run since the inception of the Scheme in 1998. We would also recommend that they consider the cost and convenience of attending course venues by public transport.
Courts vary in their attitudes to the scheme and while most courts offer almost all offenders the option of taking part, some may not. If your client is not offered the course immediately after sentencing, you are strongly advised to request it on the spot. Courts cannot offer a drink drive course at a later date without re-opening the case. This is unlikely to happen.
The court is able to offer a reduction in driving ban of not less than 3 months and not more than 25% of the original disqualification. The court will indicate this at the time of offering the course and on the referral letter.
You must make sure that your client is aware of the following key conditions for receiving a reduction in their disqualification: