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Licence restoration behaviour change program

Information about the driver education programs for drink and drug drivers.

All drivers who are caught drink or drug driving must complete a behaviour change program (BCP) before they can be re-licensed. This applies to all drivers, regardless when the offence happened. The kind of behaviour change program that a driver must complete depends on:

  • whether the driver was caught drink driving or drug driving
  • (for drink drivers) how much alcohol was detected in their breath or blood at the time of the offence
  • whether the driver had been caught drink, and or drug driving before
  • whether the driver was found guilty of driving while under the influence or driving while impaired by a drug.

VicRoads is writing to all drivers to tell them about what they need to do. This letter is sent to the driver's address that is recorded with VicRoads.

See s. 58C—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window)

Change to procedures after 29 April 2018

The procedure for getting a licence eligibility order changed on 30 April 2018. Driver education programs have now been replaced by behaviour change programs (BCPs). The 12 month transition period ended on 30 April 2019.

See Cl 85(6)—Explanatory memorandum for Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety, Rail and Other Matters) Bill 2017

What is the behaviour change program?

Behaviour change programs replaced the driver education programs on 29 April 2018. The 12 month transition period ended on 29 April 2019.

The behaviour change program is very different from the old driver education programs. Rather than counting the number of standard drinks, participants are required to reflect on their behaviour and come up with a plan to demonstrate how they will separate drinking from driving.

A person will need to provide a certificate stating that they have completed the program requirements before they can be relicensed. (The BCP program must send certificates of completion to VicRoads on request.)

The first stage of the program last about 6 hours. People participate in small groups of about 10-12 people. The sessions are interactive and motivational in style. Groups are smaller than for the old driver education courses.

The program is delivered in 2 stages. The first stage of the program will apply to all drivers who were convicted or found guilty of a drink or drug driving offence unless they are exempted by the regulations.

All programs are provided by agencies who are accredited by VicRoads to deliver the program.

See ss. 58C, 58E—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and r. 36—Road Safety (Drivers) Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

What to expect at the behaviour change program

The program is designed to be completely different to the old form of driver education. The focus is on making the participants realise that they have to separate drinking from driving. The clear messages are that: if you are driving, don't drink and vice versa.

The program tries to find out why the person drinks or takes other drugs, and particularly tries to identify the kinds of behaviours that are going to put the person at risk of reoffending. It will explore the effects of alcohol and drugs and will encourage participants to think about what might happen if they drink or drug driving again. For example, cause an accident, lose their licence or potentially kill someone.

The participants will be required to come up with an action plan to work out a way to avoid driving after drinking ever again. They must think about what supports and strategies they will put in place to stop this happening again.

The program also identifies people who have a problem with using drugs or alcohol and will require them to be referred to specialist services, such as their local doctor, or specialist drug and alcohol counsellors.

The course will also make participants very aware of the dangers of drinking or drug-taking before driving again. They will be made to think about the consequences, such as injuring or killing others and also the higher penalties they will face for subsequent offences.

Who must proceed using the behaviour change program

VicRoads will notify all drivers who must take part in the behaviour change program before they can be relicensed. Almost all drivers who are caught drink or drug driving will be required to participate.

This applies to driver who were found guilty or convicted of:

  • any drink or drug driving offence under s. 49(1) Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) (wih the exception of a supervising driver)
  • any of the following offences that were committed while a person was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both:
    • serious motor vehicle offence
      • manslaughter arising out of the driving of a motor vehicle
      • negligently causing serious injury
      • culpable driving causing death, or
      • dangerous driving causing death or serious injury.
      • intentionally or recklessly endangering an emergency worker, custodial officer or youth justice custodial worker to risk by driving
  • dangerous driving while being chased by police
  • attempting to steal a motor vehicle.(but only if the driver was disqualified from driving or their licence was cancelled)

    This includes drivers whose drink or drug driving matter was dealt with by issue of an infringement notice.

    See ss28A(2). 58C, 58E—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and ss. 87P, 89—Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

    Exceptions

    This does not apply to a person who was found guilty of a supervising driver offence or to exceptions listed in the regulations:

    • person found guilty of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle if licence suspended and person not under influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the offence
    • person found guilty of drink driving interstate of corresponding drink driving offence where person had alcohol interlock licence interstate and offence happened before 30 April 2018
    • person who holds a current interstate licence that is subject to an interlock condition
    • person exempted by VicRoads because VicRoads is satisfied the person has completed a rehabilitation, education or behaviour change program
    • person exempted by VicRoads because of exceptional circumstances that would make the requirement unreasonable
    • person committed 2 or more offences arising from same set of circumstances, VicRoads may exempt applicant from completing behaviour change for one of these offences
    • person committed 2 or more offences and both heard together in court, VicRoads may exempt applicant from completing a second behaviour change program.

    See s. 58C(2)(a), (5), 58F(3), 31KB(1)(a)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and rr. 36, 37—Road Safety (Drivers) Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

    Intensive (or second stage) behaviour change program

    Some drivers will also be required to complete the second stage of the program. This is designed for drivers who:

    • have been caught drink or drug driving before
    • have high blood alcohol concentrations in their breath or blood (BAC)
    • were found guilty of serious driving offences involving alcohol or drugs
    • refused to be tested for the presence of drugs or alcohol.

    This is called the intensive drink and drug driver program (referred to as stage 2 in the Road Safety Act 1986).

    The full list of drivers who are required to complete an intensive behaviour change program are set out in the regulations.

    The intensive behaviour change program involves:

    • 3 x 3 hour group sessions
    • a one hour individual counselling session
    • a 2 hour pre-interlock removal program for drink drivers.

    See ss. 58C, 58D—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and r. 37—Road Safety (Drivers) Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

    Choosing a behaviour change program provider

    All BCP providers have to be approved by VicRoads. Apparently the trainers must attend a train-the-trainer course and then deliver a pilot, where their training is recorded before they are accredited. It may take some time to find a provider. This is something that a person should complete as soon as possible after they are found guilty of the offence. If not, their re-licensing will be delayed until this step has been completed.

    Cost

    There will be a statutory cost that the providers will collect for VicRoads. In addition to this, the providers can set their own fees so it is best to compare prices. Fees are still being worked out at the time of writing, but they anticipate an 80% increase in costs due to the smaller size of the groups and the extended nature of the program. Behaviour change programs are expected to cost between $350 and $400.

    However, these participants will no longer be required to pay for assessment reports. The combined cost of assessment reports and driver education used to be about $660.

    More information

    Legislation

    Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

    • s. 3(1)—defines behaviour change program, approved provider, certificate of completion, first-stage BCP, second stage BCP
    • s. 28A—effect of suspension of licence or permit
    • s. 31E—people required to complete a first-stage behaviour change program
    • s. 58C—requirements to complete first-stage behaviour change program
    • s. 58D—requirement to complete second-stage behaviour change program
    • s. 58E—VicRoads to notify person of behaviour change program
    • s. 58F—behaviour change program for interstate offences
    • s. 58G—requirement to complete behaviour change program does not affect any penalty
    • s. 58I—VicRoads may approve behaviour change program

    See Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

    Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)

    • s. 87P—defines a serious motor vehicle offence
    • s. 89(4)—suspension or licence cancellation for offence of stealing a motor vehicle

    See Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

    Road Safety (Drivers) Regulations 2019 (Vic)

    • r. 36—persons not required to complete first-stage behaviour change program
    • r. 37—persons required to complete a second-stage behaviour change program
    • r. 38—prescribed information to be included in notification—behaviour change program
    • r. 39—certificate of completion—behaviour change program

    See Road Safety (Drivers) Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

    Reference

    VicRoads

    VicRoads has informaton for drivers about drink driving and drug driving laws including information about the behaviour change program, getting another licence, removing an alcohol interlock licence condition and other penalties.

    See VicRoads—Drink driving or drug driving offences(opens in a new window).

    Acknowledgement

    Many thanks to the staff at VicRoads Policy team for providing detailed information about the new behaviour change program content in April 2018. I am also indebted to various behaviour change providers who gave generously of their knowledge in May 2018.

    Updated