Don’t drive drunk and spend festive season behind bars

2015-12-16 06:00
PHOTO: gallo images  Radio and TV presenter DJ Sbu was recently reported to have been arrested for drunk driving.

PHOTO: gallo images Radio and TV presenter DJ Sbu was recently reported to have been arrested for drunk driving.

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ACCORDING to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, South Africa has the highest number of drunk-driving related deaths in the world.

Over the 2014 festive season, about 1 000 people were arrested for driving while intoxicated.

This festive season, ensure that you don’t become a statistic. Not only should you not drink and drive, but in the event that you do, the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) is offering offenders behaviour modification programmes that can be used by court as an alternative to imprisonment. According to Nicro CEO, Soraya Solomon: “Nicro firmly believes that incarceration is not the best option for offenders who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) offences.

“Not only does sitting behind bars without structured rehabilitation interventions do nothing to change a person’s behaviour, but also being locked up with hardened criminals who exhibit extreme criminal behaviour and thought patterns hardly serve as an encouragement to behaviour change. In fact, the prison experience may lead DUI offender down a path of more serious crime.”

Solomon advises those that are arrested and facing criminal charges to contact the dedicated 24 hour DUI hotline created by Nicro, South African Breweries (SAB) and Arrive Alive. By calling 072 184 6483, callers can gain access to immediate, critical support and possible inclusion into Nicro interventions.

DUI offenders are carefully assessed to determine their suitability to participate in the interventions that have been specifically designed to improve the offender’s awareness of the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence, as well as reckless and negligent driving.

Interventions include counselling and the Road Offences Panel Programme (ROPP). The ROPP is a needs-based behavioural and psycho-educational intervention programme that tackles the challenges of reckless and drunk driving, while managing risks and addressing the behaviours that caused the drunken driving offence in the first place.

Drunken driving is a very serious offence and offenders are often sentenced to direct imprisonment. However, the ROPP allows suitable DUI offenders to participate in programmes and carry out their sentence in the community.

Offenders can be referred to Nicro through two channels, the first channel is after being found guilty and sentenced – such offenders will then have a criminal record; or they are referred pre-trial, or through Adult Diversion, and then do not have a criminal record.

The aim of the programme is to build knowledge, cultivate insight and change offender behaviour with a view to reducing re-offending and in so doing, making our roads and country safer.

Since inception, the programme, which is supported by the National Prosecuting Authority, has successfully worked with hundreds of road offenders and dramatically reduced the workload and burden on the formal criminal justice system.

Recently, one of the participants of the ROPP said: “Nicro taught me how alcohol affects your consciousness. It minimises your concentration, your reflexes and your abilities to make informed decisions. Other than that, the programme made me reflect on my life, how much is at stake if something would happen to me.”

According to Solomon, if we don’t change behaviour, we are not going to stop road carnage.

“The purpose of Nicro’s interventions is to reduce the incidence of drunk driving and keeping South Africans safe on the road,” concludes Solomon.

For more information or to donate to Nicro, visit www.nicro.org.za

• Nicro stands for the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders, formerly known as the Prisoner’s Aid Association. It is a non-profit organisation that aims to build and strengthen a democratic society based on human rights principles through crime prevention and development. – Supplied.

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