Driver rehabilitation

Vincents Solicitors is pleased to support Brake.

Key facts

  • In 2015, 1,403,555 offenders chose to attend a National Driving Offender Scheme (NDORS) course, over three times the number of offenders that attended retraining courses in 2010 (467,601); [1]
  • Speed awareness courses are the most frequently attended of the NDORS; 1,207,570 offenders attended a speed awareness course in 2015, 86% of the total NDORS courses that year; [2]
  • In 2012 around 45,000 drink-drive offenders were referred to Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) courses, with nearly 24,000 offenders accepting the offer [3];
  • Up to 2 years after the initial drink-drive conviction, offenders who did not attend a rehabilitation course were 2.6 times more likely to be convicted for a subsequent drink-drive offence, than those who attended [4].


Drivers who are caught committing low-level traffic offences may, in the UK, be given the option to attend a re-training course as an alternative to prosecution or as a means of reducing their sentence (usually to avoid a fixed penalty notice and/or penalty points on their licence).

The information below looks at the courses available and their effectiveness.

National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme


The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) is unique to the UK, originating from a recommendation in Sir Peter North’s Road Traffic Law Review, 1988 [5]. Although the courses were never given the statutory footing suggested in the review, the police were given the opportunity to develop the policy behind the courses with the aid of key stakeholders.

The main aim of the NDORS is to prevent re-offending and encourage more positive driver behaviour and greater compliance with road traffic legislation. They are designed by a Strategic Course Development Group consisting of operational policing representatives, behavioural change and transport academics and senior road safety practitioners.

The courses are offered at the discretion of the police who make their decision based upon:

  • The circumstances of the incident;
  • Any additional evidence;
  • If there is a reasonable chance of prosecution;
  • Whether there was no serious injury or fatality at the time of the offence;
  • If the offender has not attended a similar driver retraining course in the past three years.[6]

NDORS courses are not appropriate for ‘high risk’ offenders and they can only be offered to an offender once within a three year period. If a person commits a similar offence again within this three year period, they will not have the option to take the re-training course, instead they will face fines and penalty points on their licence.

There are NDORS approved training centres available across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (with similar systems in place in Scotland), funded on a local level by the offender paying for the cost of the course.

There are currently seven NDORS courses available to the public, for a variety of offences, these are as follows:

1. National Driver Awareness Course

The National Driver Awareness Course (NDAC), formerly known as the National Driver Improvement Scheme (NDIS), is aimed at drivers who have been involved in a minor crash where the police have classed their driving as having been careless or inconsiderate. The course lasts for one day and involves a mixture of driving theory, modern training methods and practical on-road driving with an accredited instructor. The scheme is delivered by a combination of specialist Department for Transport approved driving instructors and trainers.

2. National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC)

The aim of the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) is to explore reasons why drivers speed and to discourage them from doing so in the future. The course is design to cover appropriate offences detected by speed cameras and road-side police offices within a specific range of the speed limit (10%+2mph to 10%+9mph) excluding 20mph zones.

The course acts as an alternative to the fixed penalty notice and penalty points that would otherwise be issued; it lasts for four hours and is based entirely within a classroom environment. The NSAC is the most frequently attended of the NDORS courses; 1,207,570 offenders attended an NSAC course in 2015, 86% of the total NDORS courses that year. [7]

3. National Speed Awareness Course for 20mph

The new National Speed Awareness Course for 20mph (NSAC+20) is an attempt to crackdown on speeding in the newly created 20mph zones. As the popularity of the 20mph limit increases the police aim to use the NSAC+20 to target the unaware and unintentional behaviour that can be associated with the newness of the 20mph limits.

The course was introduced as a phased programme in August 2013, which was followed by the roll-out of the national NSAC+20 in January 2014 for adoption by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A full evaluation of the new course is currently underway. 

4. Rider Intervention Developing Experience

The Rider Intervention Developing Experience (RIDE) course has been designed solely with two-wheel riders in mind. It is targeted towards riders’ whose on-road behaviour has brought them to the attention of the police. In 2015, 986 riders chose to attend a RIDE course. [8]

The main objective of the course is to address negative rider behaviour, which could be described as thrill or sensation seeking; antisocial or careless. The course takes place over a single, five hour session which focuses on a mixture of riding theory and rider psychology.

5. Driving for Change (D4C)

The Drive for Change (D4C) course is a practical course lasting for two hours and fifteen minutes, during this time an accredited instructor will provide two students with tailored advice and support. The D4C course is offered to address lack of driving skill, e.g. lapse of concentration, errors in judgement and lack of awareness in a non-collision incident. In 2015, NDORS reported that 2,924 offenders attended the D4C courses. [9]

6. What’s Driving Us

The What’s Driving Us (WDU) course is targeted at drivers who, evidence suggests, knew that their actions were a road traffic offence but carried them out regardless. The incident must not have involved a collision and the police must have clear evidence that mischief carried out by act or omission was intentional or deliberate. The course lasts for four hours; focussing on driving theory in a classroom environment. 

7. Your Belt-Your Life

The ‘Your Belt- Your Life’ scheme is for offenders caught not wearing a seat belt, where there is no exemption. It is based entirely online (or in a workbook for those who do not have internet access) and is the only NDORS course to have a pass/fail outcome. 


The NDORS have proven a popular alternative to fixed penalty notices and penalty points in the UK. Between 2010 and 2015 there has been a three-fold increase in offenders choosing to undertake these courses, emphasising the attractiveness to the driving public.

The speed awareness courses have proven the most frequently attended, 86% of the NDORS courses attended in 2015 were speed-orientated. A study of the effectiveness of these courses found that the ones that measured re-offending showed that there was a statistically significant reduction in those detected speeding again:

  • In Lincolnshire, 5% of convicted speeders who attended a course were detected speeding again, compared to the 10% of convicted speeders who did not attend a course;
  • In Humberside, 8% of drivers who attended a course received a further speeding offence, compared to the 25% who did not attend. [10]

However, this public acceptance of re-training schemes is not without its jeopardies. Although the re-training system is supposed to be a one-time opportunity, with re-offenders receiving penalty points and fines; drivers caught for different offences can go on additional re-training courses without repercussions.

Brake argues that it would be better to provide an incentive of a reduced fine to attend courses, so that drivers who offend will continue to be sanctioned under the penalty points system. This would be possible if the fixed penalty notice was increased to £500-£1,000 as Brake advocates.

Drink-driver rehabilitation


The Road Traffic Act 1991 allowed ‘designated’ courts to offer drink-drive offenders the opportunity to attend a rehabilitation course under the Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS). Since January 2000, the scheme has been made permanent and is now available through all courts in Great Britain for drink-drives who have been disqualified for a period of at least 12 months. [11]

The courses can be offered to offenders, at the discretion of the court, if they are convicted of:

  • Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with excess alcohol in their blood, breath or urine;
  • Failing to provide a sample.

If the offender opts to take up the court’s referral and successfully completes the course, their period of disqualification from driving can be reduced. In the case of a 12-month period of disqualification, the reduction will be three months. For longer periods of disqualification, the period of reduction will be up to one quarter, as determined by the court.

The DVSA holds responsibility for overseeing the DRRS and its syllabus material.

Telford Training Consultants

The Telford Training Consultants (TTC-Group) is the UK’s largest provider of drink-drive courses, with over 155 venues across the UK. The TTC-Group was appointed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI) to deliver courses under the DDRS. The TTC has been providing these courses for over 22 years and have run courses for over 100,000 offenders in this time. [12]

Although there are no national statistics on the number of court referrals to offender training schemes, Graham Wynn, director at TTC, believes that the national rate for referrals is about 60-70%. He feels that the work that TTC does in educating magistrates and legal professionals on the benefits of the course is the main reason why the referral rate is significantly higher than the national figure.

Reasons given for not taking up the course include the individual not being able to afford the cost of the course, or feeling that they don’t have time to do it. However, Mr Wynn said that TTC worked hard to make the course affordable and easily accessible. Mr Wynn said: “We try to make it as affordable as possible because the higher the take-up rate the more we can do to make roads safer.”

Mr Wynn said: “All of the people on the course will be going back on the road so we talk to them about responsible driving. A lot of people think we are going to be wagging the finger at them but we are not. The education is more subtle than that and the work at the end of the course on how drink driving affects the victims is very powerful. We have also had an unexpected outcome. We hear the course attendees saying to each other that they have been speaking to their friends, colleagues or partners at home and telling them what they have learnt on the course and that it is not acceptable to have a couple of drinks. Therefore, we are not only getting the message across to the people on the course but to a wider audience as well.”

To link to the TTC Training Consultants’ website, click here.


In 2012 around 45,000 drink-drive offenders were referred to Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) courses by the courts, with nearly 24,000 offenders accepting the offer and successfully completing a Drink-Drive course [13].  In 2013, a DfT study assessing the government’s success in reducing re-offending, described DDRS as having “mixed/promising evidence on… their impact on subsequent drink driving offence”. [14]

While a more in-depth DfT evaluation of the drink-driver rehabilitation courses in Great Britain, comparing offenders who attended the course with those who were referred but did not participate in the course, indicated that:

  • Up to 2 years after the initial drink drive conviction, offenders who did not attend a DDRS course were 2.6 times more likely to be convicted for a subsequent drink drive offence compared with offenders who had attended a course;
  • Overall, the study found that attending a DDRS course reduced the likelihood of re-offending for all offenders, regardless of social status, age or gender;
  • An extended period of evaluation (over 5 years) indicated that, in the longer term, those who do not attend the course are about 1.75 times more likely than attendees to be re-convicted for a drink-drive offence.[15]

The primary objective of courses offered under the DDRS is to enable individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to change their behaviour and prevent re-offending. Research by the Transport Research Laboratory has suggested that drink-drive rehabilitation courses have been most successful for:

  • Offenders from the middle social groups;
  • Offenders aged between 30-39 years;
  • Offenders who have been convicted of two drink-drive offences with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between one and two and a half times the legal limit within 10 years.[16]

Sources of further information:

Department for Transport
Learning and Skills Development Agency
National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS)
Telford Training Consultants
Transport Research Laboratory


[1] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[2] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[3] TTC Group, Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Course 
[4] TRL, Reconvictions of Drink-Drive Course Attenders: a six year follow up, TRL Report TRL574, 2003
[5] Sir Peter North, The Road Traffic Law Review Report, 1988
[6] NDORS, The Scheme
[7] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[8] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[9] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[10] Department for Transport, Road safety research report no.66: effective intervention for speeding motorists, 2006
[11] The Road Traffic Act 1991

TTC Group, Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Course 
[13] TTC Group, Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Course 
[14] Ministry of Justice, Transforming Rehabilitation: a summary of evidence on reoffending, 2013
[15] Road Safety Observatory, Drink-driving fact page
[16] TRL, Reconvictions of Drink-Drive Course Attenders: a six year follow up, TRL Report TRL574, 2003 

Updated July 2016

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