Remedial Licensing Programs

In British Columbia, the Responsible Driver Program (RDP) is offered to offenders convicted of impaired driving. Drivers with criminal impaired driving convictions and drivers who have multiple Motor Vehicle Act drinking driving prohibitions are eligible to participate. The Superintendent of the Office of Motor Vehicles sends a letter to all offenders who are required to complete the program; for many offenders, licence reinstatement is conditional on successful completion of the program.

The RDP costs $930 and begins with an initial screening. Based on the results of this screening, the offender will be referred to one of two programs that will best meet their individual needs. These programs include:

  • One-day education session conducted in a classroom setting; and,
  • 16-hour group counseling session that can be scheduled over three months.

After an offender has completed their assigned RDP, an assessment will be conducted to determine whether there has been sufficient progress and if the offender is fit to drive. The Office of Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV) can make several determinations regarding driver status including full reinstatement, requirement to install an interlock, or denial of licence reinstatement.

Alberta’s remedial programs are overseen by the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) who delivers them on behalf of the Alberta Transportation Safety Board (ATSB). Upon being convicted of impaired driving, both first and repeat offenders are required to complete an education program in order to have their licence reinstated. First offenders are required to complete ‘Planning Ahead’ and repeat offenders are required to complete ‘IMPACT’.

Planning Ahead is a one-day education course for first offenders and costs $333. The focus of the class is to prevent impaired driving from happening again. During the course, offenders will learn the following:

  • how to separate drinking and drug use from driving by creating an action plan prior to heading out;
  • the importance of zero tolerance for impaired driving;
  • how impairment affects an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle; and,
  • how lifestyle choices can put an individual at increased risk of impaired driving and other negative consequences.

IMPACT is a weekend live-in assessment for alcohol and/or drug use and costs $750. The program consists of a pre-treatment course for repeat offenders (those drivers who have two or more convictions within a ten-year window). The focus of this course is to prevent impaired driving in the future by addressing the underlying alcohol dependency issues that are leading to the criminal behaviour. During the course, offenders will cover the following:

  • how their alcohol/drug use has negatively impacted their lives;
  • examination of the problems that their alcohol/drug use has caused;
  • establish an action plan to begin to deal with their dependency issues; and,
  • receive an assessment summary report with recommendations for follow-up.

The ATSB will obtain a copy of the assessment from the IMPACT program. The assessment will include recommended supports, if any, by the facilitator of the course and ATSB can impose these recommendations, e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) attendance, commence or continue a program with the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC), a referral to Driver Fitness and Monitoring (DFM) for medical testing for alcohol dependency, etc.

Every offender convicted of impaired driving in Saskatchewan is required to complete an addiction screening with a drug and alcohol counsellor. If the screening shows no dependency issues, the offender will then be required to complete the Drive Without Impairment (DWI) program. The program is administered by Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) Driver Licensing and Vehicle Registration and the cost is $170.

The DWI program, which takes approximately 16 hours to complete, is designed to educate offenders about the serious nature of drinking and driving and provides them with strategies on how to separate drinking from driving. Offenders are required to successfully complete this course in order to have their licence reinstated.

If the addiction screening reveals that there is substance dependency, the offender will be mandated to complete an individualized recovery program. A specific treatment plan that meets the individual’s needs will be developed and will include weekly individual or group counselling as well as self-help group participation (e.g., AA) and possibly a stay at an in-patient treatment facility. Similarly, those offenders convicted of a second or subsequent impaired driving offence may also stay a minimum of 14 days in the Saskatchewan Impaired Driver Treatment Centre (SIDTC) in lieu of jail time. The recovery program is considered complete when the offender is classified as low risk to repeat alcohol/drug-related problem behaviour.

In Manitoba, all offenders convicted of impaired driving must be assessed and complete one of three programs offered by the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM). These include an education program, a high-risk program, and treatment. The cost associated with these programs is $625.

The assessment process begins with the offender completing two questionnaires followed by an interview with a trained addictions counsellor to assess the individual’s alcohol and/or drug usage. Based on the outcome of the assessment, the offender will be referred to the most appropriate intervention strategy.

The purpose of each of the impaired driver programs is to assist individuals in avoiding future impaired driving offences. The programs are as follows:

  • Educational Program. The education program consists of a one-day, eight-hour workshop. The focus of this course includes awareness of impaired driving laws and consequences, the effects of alcohol and other substances on driving ability, separating drinking from driving, accepting responsibility, and making alternative arrangements/planning ahead. This program is run in a group setting with a maximum of 15 participants.
  • High Risk Program. Involves both individual and group counseling sessions. This program is educational in focus and geared toward high-risk offenders (those assessed with a high likelihood of re-offending). During individual sessions the offender will work with a counsellor and create a contract for involvement, establish goals, and develop methods to monitor progress and measure substance usage while in the program. There are six group sessions spread over six months totaling 12.5 hours. These sessions focus on risk reduction strategies and involve examination of individual substance use patterns. Offenders are encouraged to develop plans that will assist them in reducing their alcohol consumption levels.
  • Rehabilitative Program Options. The treatment options are community-based and are for those offenders who are assessed as having serious alcohol dependency issues. Treatment can be administered through one of the following three schedules:
    • Once a week for three hours over a ten-week period;
    • Daily intensive sessions five days a week for a period of three weeks with additional self-help; or,
    • A residential program lasting 21-28 days with additional self-help.

A copy of the assessment is sent to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles along with the recommendations. Successful completion of the education program and/or treatment will be required for licence reinstatement.

All drivers convicted of a drinking and driving offence in Ontario must complete the remedial measures program prior to reinstatement. The Back on Track (BOT) program is administered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and costs $634 for the full program. The program consists of three components:

  • Assessment. For those convicted of impaired driving only  – determines the extent of the drinking and driving problem and whether an education or treatment program is most appropriate;
  • Education or treatment program. The driver must successfully complete the appropriate program aimed at preventing drinking and driving. These programs focus on how alcohol affects driving performance, the consequences of impaired driving and ways to avoid drinking and driving; and,
  • Follow-up interview. This takes place six months after the completion of the education or treatment program to revisit the skills obtained and goals set.

The education program is eight hours in length and focuses on:

  • the consequences associated with impaired driving (legal and personal);
  • how alcohol and other drugs affect one’s ability to drive;
  • myths, misconceptions, and realities about alcohol, drugs, and impaired driving; and,
  • ways to avoid drinking and driving.

The treatment program is 16 hours long and is for those offenders who have been assessed as having alcohol/drug dependency issues. This program focuses on:

  • the effects of alcohol and other drugs on driving performance;
  • the health and behaviour effects of alcohol intake;
  • understanding the consequences of impaired driving;
  • assessing individual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours in relation to impaired driving;
  • learning how to plan ways to avoid situations that involve alcohol or other drugs and driving;
  • developing a plan to avoid another impaired driving offence;
  • enhancing coping skills for dealing with anger and stress;
  • recognizing the signs of problem drinking and assessing personal drinking levels and impacts of drinking on one’s personal life; and,
  • making a commitment to reduce or end the consumption of alcohol/drugs.

Six months after the completion of the education or treatment program, a follow-up interview takes place to assess success in meeting program goals. The meeting lasts for approximately 30 minutes and during this time, the offender and counsellor will also review strategies for avoiding drinking and driving developed during the program. Once the offender has met all of the program requirements, the Ministry of Transportation will be notified of their completion and the offender will be eligible for licence reinstatement.

All offenders convicted of impaired driving in Quebec are required to undergo an assessment. A more comprehensive assessment must be completed by all repeat offenders (as well as first offenders who have an unfavourable initial assessment) to determine whether or not their alcohol consumption levels are too excessive to safely operate a motor vehicle. Following the assessment, offenders are required to complete an education course as a condition of licence reinstatement.

The driver education program, Alcofrein, is administered by the Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ). The program aims to raise awareness and prevent future incidences of impaired driving. During the course, the focus is on:

  • the legal, social, and personal consequences of impaired driving;
  • the effects of alcohol consumption on the body; and,
  • dispelling myths and misconceptions about alcohol consumption and impaired driving.

The session lasts for approximately three hours and costs $150. Upon successful completion, the offender will be eligible for full licence reinstatement.

New Brunswick has two different remedial programs for individuals convicted of impaired driving. Both of these programs are focused on preventing recidivism by assisting offenders in making lifestyle changes and their completion is a requirement of licence reinstatement.

The Auto Control program is designed for first offenders and includes an assessment as well as education. The program is run in a group format with up to 18 participants and costs approximately $297. It involves an alcohol risk assessment and a two-day course which covers topics such as the effect of alcohol on the body and behaviour, the consequences/costs associated with impaired driving, and how to avoid impaired driving.

The Auto Control Plus program is designed for repeat offenders and covers the same topics as the Auto Control program. It also focuses on teaching techniques for behaviour modification and self-management in an effort to address the underlying dependency issues that lead to impaired driving. This program is unique in that it involves family members in the process so that offenders can see how their alcohol consumption negatively impacts those around them. At the conclusion of the program, all participants will attend a victim impact panel and the hope is that the offender will seek additional treatment for their alcohol dependency issues. The cost for this week-long program is approximately $542.

Upon successful completion of the assigned program, the Department of Public Safety will be notified, and the offender will be eligible for full licence reinstatement assuming they have met all reinstatement criteria.

In Nova Scotia, all offenders convicted of impaired driving (for both alcohol and drugs) are required to undergo an assessment for alcohol/drug dependency and participate in the Driving While Impaired (DWI) program. This program is overseen by Addiction Services of Nova Scotia and costs approximately $415. Participation in the program is required by provincial law and licence reinstatement is conditional on successful completion. The entire program can take up to a year to complete as it includes an individual assessment, group education sessions, and possibly individual counselling.

The assessment for alcohol dependency consists of an interview with Addiction Services staff where the extent of dependency is evaluated. If it is determined that the offender has a serious drug/alcohol problem, they will be referred for treatment or counselling. The assessment may be completed during the course of one to three clinical/treatment sessions which average about 60 minutes in length.

The education program can be up to two days in length and is delivered to a group of less than 20 offenders. Its focus is educational and aims to provide offenders with information about impaired driving and how to avoid recidivism. Topics covered include:

  • impaired driving laws (both provincial and federal);
  • the effect that alcohol has on the body and BAC;
  • the impact that drugs have on driving ability;
  • the impact that fatigue has on driving ability;
  • attitudes about drinking and driving; and,
  • the difference between impairment and intoxication.

In Newfoundland & Labrador, all offenders convicted of impaired driving are required to complete the Think First (SHIP) program offered by SafetyNL as a condition of licence reinstatement. Repeat offenders are required to undergo an assessment for alcohol and drug dependency. If this assessment indicates that a problem is present, these offenders will also be required to complete an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program.

The Think First Program costs $160 and consists of one, four-hour session. The program is educational in focus and consists of five components that examine the following:

  • examination of offender knowledge and beliefs;
  • review of impaired driving laws (Criminal Code, Highway Traffic Act) and conditions for licence reinstatement;
  • discussion of the effects of alcohol on the body and how it impedes driving ability;
  • discussion of ways to avoid becoming impaired and identification of strategies on how to plan ahead; and,
  • closing, identification of resources/where to go for additional assistance, and distribution of certificates.

Repeat offenders must undergo an assessment to determine the extent of their alcohol and drug addiction and may need to complete a drug rehabilitation program to restore their licence. Upon successful completion of the course, a notification will be sent to the Motor Vehicle Registration Division.

All offenders convicted of impaired driving in Prince Edward Island are required to complete a Driver Rehabilitation Course (DRC) administered by the Highway Safety Division (HSD) of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. The course is comprised of a six-hour educational program surrounding drinking and driving and the effects of alcohol. Completion of the course is required as a condition of licence reinstatement. There is no fee for this course.

The DRC includes presentations from law enforcement officials, legal practitioners, and addiction counsellors with a focus on drinking and driving as well as drinking habits. Specific topics covered include:

  • the effect of alcohol on the body, BAC, and its impact on one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle;
  • federal and provincial impaired driving legislation;
  • the consequences and costs associated with impaired driving;
  • strategies/interventions for treating alcohol dependency; and,
  • making lifestyle changes and improving decision-making.

Repeat offenders may also be subject to a Driver Risk Assessment to determine whether or not they should undergo further assessment and possibly treatment.

Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut do not currently have a mandated remedial program in place for impaired drivers. However, the Ministry of Transportation in the Northwest Territories states that convicted individuals may be required to complete: a driver improvement program; an alcohol dependency awareness program; an alcohol treatment program; or, any other condition the Registrar considers appropriate.