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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Drink Driving and Drug Driving Courses


If you are going to court for a drink or drug driving matter in the ACT, you may want to consider completing one of three courses for offenders before you get there. These are courses aimed at reducing the likelihood of people committing further alcohol or safety-related traffic offences.

The courses consist of a series of education sessions that are designed to increase people’s understanding of their:

  • legal and social obligations as a road user;
  • the seriousness with which the courts treat certain offences and the punishments;
  • the impact that traffic offences can have on the community; and
  • the steps that people can take to avoid reoffending.

When sentencing a traffic offender, the judge or magistrate will give the person credit for completing such a program because:

  • it is in the nature of a punishment in itself (and costs between $150 and $230);
  • their attendance shows they are taking their offending seriously and showing contrition;
  • people who attend are less likely to re-offend.

The Guideline Judgment on High Range Drink Driving (PCA) offences, which is a NSW judgment endorsed by the ACT Supreme Court, states that completion of such a program is a proper basis for a reduction in the otherwise appropriate disqualification period and fine.

ACT Region Traffic Programs And Enrolments

There are a variety of traffic courses in the ACT region.

Traffic Offender Intervention Program

TOIP involves presenters with experience and knowledge of road safety and road trauma, educating offenders about the risks and consequences of unsafe driving behaviour.

The program is run by the Police and Citizens Youth Club (PCYC). There are six sessions run over six weeks:

  • Week 1: Introduction, the police force and crash consequences
  • Week 2: The accident scene
  • Week 3: Alcohol and other drugs
  • Week 4: The legal system
  • Week 5: Driving facts
  • Week 6: Victims of road trauma and final reflections.

The program is held every Monday evening and is designed as a rolling course, meaning there is no specific order in which participants must complete the program. Participants can join any week and finish in 6 weeks, depending on public holidays. This also means if you miss a session you can make it up in the 6 weeks. At the completion of the course, you will be given a certificate of completion to be used for sentencing.

In the ACT the program is a voluntary program. However, the court, through a condition on a person’s bail or good behaviour order, may mandate it. The court may also delay or adjourn the sentencing of a matter to allow the offender to complete the program.

Details of the program are:

  • Cost: $150
  • Time: Mondays 6.30pm-8.30pm
  • Location: Erindale PCYC, 17 Grattan Court, Wanniassa.

Think Ahead

Think Ahead is an ACT course for first-time drug-drive offenders or first-time drink-drive offenders with a reading below 0.08. It is a two-hour program and costs $100, with a discount for concession card holders.

Know The Risk

Know The Risk  and Reversed are ACT courses for repeat offenders under 0.08 and for first and repeat offenders above 0.08 or repeat drug-drivers or for those who refuse or fail to provide a sample or take a test (whether first offence or subsequent).

Know The Risk involves two three-hour sessions a week apart and costs $255, with a discount for concession card holders.

The Queanbeyan Local Court accepts the above programs in mitigation of offences sentenced before it.

SAVE Traffic Offender Intervention Program

Queanbeyan has its own course, too. The SAVE Traffic Offender Intervention Program operates out of the Kangaroos Club, on the corner of Stuart St and Richard Ave, and involves a day-long program, usually 9am to 5pm on nominated Saturdays, and costs $165.

Goulburn and Yass Local Courts are served by a program run through the PCYC Institute.

Eligibility for programs

A relevant drink or drug drive course must be completed before a driver found guilty of an offence and disqualified from driving will be re-issued with a licence. The course must be completed within the person’s disqualification period.

Well-prepared defendants complete, or at least enrol in, a relevant course before coming to court.

What is involved in the programs?

Topics covered vary from provider to provider, and can include:

  • Drink, drugs and driving.
  • Dangerous road behaviours.
  • Emergency response.
  • The legal system.
  • Crash casualties.
  • Actions and outcomes.

There is often a workbook that must be completed, including a “final reflection” where you will be required to comment on what you have learned at the course and your reflections on your offence generally.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 

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