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Speed Awareness & Driver Improvement Courses

At Caddick Davies Solicitors, we have successfully represented many motorists to persuade the police to offer a choice of Speed Awareness and Driver Improvement Courses as the alternative to a Fixed Penalty Notice or formal prosecution before a Magistrates’ Court.

As an alternative to prosecution, drivers may be offered a driver retraining course. These courses can be offered for a wide range of offences, but most commonly include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving without due care and attention (careless driving)
  • Using a mobile phone
  • Red traffic light/Road sign offences
  • Not wearing a seat belt

Courses usually last between 1/2 and 1 day and cost between £70 and £120.

The great benefit to the motorist is that if you attend a speed awareness or driver improvement course you will not receive any penalty points (an endorsement) on your driving licence or a fine.

It is at the discretion of the police as to whether they offer a speed awareness or driver improvement course, and different police forces offer different courses for different offences. The police should however, follow issued guidance by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and should offer a motorist the chance to attend a course if they satisfy the relevant criteria.

It should be remembered that whilst these schemes do not impose any criminal penalty, they are effectively a punishment, and should only be offered to a motorist where the police have evidence that an offence has been committed. A motorist should not agree to attend on a course unless they accept that they have committed the offence.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong, then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

Below you will find helpful information on Speed Awareness and Driver Improvement Course Law, How We Can Help and answers to your Commonly Asked Questions.

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Background on the Speed Awareness & Driver Improvement Courses

Speed Awareness and Driver Improvement Courses, more broadly referred to as Driver Retraining or Court Diversion Schemes, have their origins in the Road Traffic Law Review 1988. It’s main author, Peter North said the following:

“It must be in the public interest to rectify a fault rather than punish the transgressor” and “Retraining of traffic offenders may lead to an improvement in their driving, particularly if their training is angled towards their failings”. From this he recommended: “A pilot study of training in basic driving skills should be undertaken to determine whether such retraining produces a lasting improvement in the driving skills if the offenders undertaking it.”

This pilot scheme has evolved into an established system of speed awareness and driver improvement courses, organised by The National Driver Offender Retraining Schemes (NDORS).

NDORS offers 5 courses in total:

  • The National Driver Alertness Course
  • The Rider Intervention Development Experience
  • The National Speed Awareness Course
  • The What’s Driving Us Course; and
  • The Driving for Change Course.

In addition to these courses a limited number of police forces also offer their own driver retraining courses.

Whether or not you are offered the opportunity to attend on a driver retraining course, as an alternative to a Fixed Penalty Notice or formal criminal prosecution, will depend upon whether the offence meets the relevant eligibility criteria, and is more generally at the discretion of the police.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been – or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong – then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

How does each driver retraining course work?

There are 5 main driver retraining courses offered by police forces within the United Kingdom offered under the umbrella of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS). These are:

NATIONAL SPEED AWARENESS COURSE:

This course is aimed entirely at minor speeding offences.

The course usually lasts approximately 3 hours and costs between £7o and £120.

NATIONAL DRIVER ALERTNESS COURSE:

This course is mainly used for incidents involving a collision where there would be sufficient evidence to prosecute a driver for driving without due care and attention or “careless driving”.

This course is ran over a period of 6 hours and costs between £70 and £120.

RIDER INTERVENTION DEVELOPING EXPERIENCE COURSE (RIDE):

This course is designed specifically for motorcyclists and is intended for motorcyclists who ride in an “anti-social manner”, primarily covering matters of excess speed and careless riding.

The course usually lasts approximately 5 hours and again costs between £70 and £120.

WHAT’S DRIVING US COURSE:

This course is intended for those motorists who commit deliberate offences or offences involving a lack of concentration which do not involve a collision. This would include offences such as Using a Mobile Phone (whilst driving) and Contravening a Red Traffic Signal.

The course usually lasts approximately 3 hours and costs between £70 and £120.

DRIVING 4 CHANGE COURSE:

This course is intended for those offences which result from the commission of driving offences which demonstrate carelessness or under performance which do not result in a collision. This could include cases of bad driving such as “tailgating” and careless manoeuvres.

This course lasts approximately 3 hours and costs between £70 and £150.

In addition to these course offered by NDORS there are a limited number of other courses offered by different police forces across the UK, which include:

LEVEL CROSSING AWARENESS COURSE – directed at level crossing offences
CALL DIVERT COURSE – directed at Using a Mobile Phone (whilst driving)
YOUR BELT – YOUR LIFE COURSE – directed at seat belt offences

For further information on any of these driver courses, please contact our team of speeding solicitors for advice and a no-obligation consultation on how we can help.

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What are the criteria for attending a Speed Awareness or Driver Improvement Course?

Whether or not a speed awareness or driver improvement course is offered is a matter for the discretion of the police, however in reaching this decision the police should have regard to the available ACPO Guidance on speed awareness and driver improvement courses and also locally issued guidance.

In addition to specific considerations with regard to the nature of the offence committed (including its facts), a person may be eligible for a driver retraining scheme course if:

1) There is a realistic prospect of conviction for the offence (i.e. there is evidence that an offence has been committed;
2) The driver has not attended on a similar NDORS course within 3 years of the offence;
3) The driver must hold a current Full UK Driving Licence; and
4) The driver must be willing to pay the course fee.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been – or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong – then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

Further criteria for attending a Speed Awareness Course

In addition to the general criteria for attending a speed awareness course (see above) that there is a realistic prospect of conviction, that a speed awareness course has not been attended in the last 3 years and the driver holds a Full UK Driving Licence, a driver will be eligible for a speed awareness course if:

a) The speed by which the speed limit has been exceeded falls within a range of 10% plus 2mph and 10% plus 9mph.

By way of example, if you drove at a speed of between 35mph and 42mph within a 30mph speed limit, then you may be considered suitable to attend a speed awareness course.

b) The offence is not committed at the same time as another offence (e.g. careless driving), unless that other offence is so minor that no further action may be taken in connection with it.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been – or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong – then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

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Further criteria for attending a Driver Improvement Course

In addition to the general criteria for attending a driver improvement course or National Driver Alertness Course (see above) that there is a realistic prospect of conviction, that a speed awareness course has not been attended in the last 3 years and the driver holds a Full UK Driving Licence, whether or not a driver is eligible will depend on the nature of the offence and in particular:

a) how far below the expected standard of a “competent and careful” driver the driving has fallen; and

b) any injury which has resulted from the driving conduct.

Whether or not a driver improvement course is offered will be at the discretion of the police and representations may be made to the police as to why a course should be offered in the alternative to formal prosecution.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been – or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong – then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

Specialist Speed Awareness and Driver Improvement Course Solicitor Representation

At Caddick Davies Solicitors, we specialise in motoring offences and the representation of motorists in connection with speed awareness and driver improvement courses.

In many cases we are contacted by motorists who are unhappy that they have not been offered the chance to attend on a course in the alternative to prosecution and in many of these cases we are able to make representations and to persuade the police to offer a course.

In other cases we are contacted by motorists who have been offered a course, but do not accept that they have done anything wrong. In these cases we are able to advise as to whether or not it is beneficial to accept the offer in accordance with the facts and if the offer should not be accepted to reject it and defend the case at court.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been or you have been offered a course and don’t think you have committed any offence, please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we may help you.

Commonly Questions on Speed Awareness and Driver Improvement Courses

A speed awareness course (The National Speed Awareness Course) is a driver retraining course which is offered to drivers who have committed speeding offences in the alternative to either a Fixed Penalty Notice for speeding or formal prosecution before a Magistrates’ Court.

This is an administrative alternative and is offered at the discretion of the police subject to guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and local police guidance.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong, then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

In accordance with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidelines on speed awareness courses, you will be eligible to attend a speed awareness course if:

1) The speed is within the threshold guidelines of 10% plus 2 mph and 10% plus 9 mph.

By way of example within a speed limit of 30mph you should be offered the course at speeds of between 35mph and 42mph.

AND

2) There is evidence that you have committed the offence;
3) You have not attended a course for speeding in the last 3 years;
4) You hold a full UK Driving Licence;
5) The offence has not been committed at the same time as another offence (unless very minor).

It should be remembered that the police issue these courses on a discretionary basis and may therefore also take into account other circumstances of the offence in reaching any decision.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness course and believe that you should have been, please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how can help you.

Driver improvement and driver retraining courses can be offered for a wide range of offences, including:

  • Driving without due care and attention (careless driving)
  • Using a mobile phone
  • Red traffic light/Road sign offences
  • Not wearing a seat belt

In accordance with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidelines on driver improvement courses, you will be offered a course subject to a consideration of the nature of the offence.

In essence if the offence is not considered so serious such that it should receive a Fixed Penalty Notice or formal prosecution before the court you will be offered the course, subject to the following conditions:

1) There is evidence that you have committed the offence;
2) You have not attended a course for speeding in the last 3 years;
3) You hold a full UK Driving Licence;
4) The offence has not been committed at the same time as another offence (unless very minor).

It should be remembered that the police issue these courses on a discretionary basis and may therefore also take into account other circumstances of the offence in reaching any decision.

If you have not been offered a driver improvement course and believe that you should have been, please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

The decision on whether or not to offer a driver the opportunity to attend on a speed awareness or driver improvement course in the alternative to a Fixed Penalty Notice or formal prosecution before the Magistrates’ Court is at the discretion of the police.

In reaching this decision the police will take into account guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on speed awareness and driver improvement course (please see above).

If you are not offered the chance to attend on a speed awareness or driver improvement course and you believe that you should have been, then we may use our expertise to make representations to the police for such a course to be offered.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been, please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

Whether or not you are offered the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course in the alternative to a Fixed Penalty Notice or formal prosecution before the Magistrates’ Court is at the discretion of the police.

In making this decision police forces will consider guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on speed awareness course and local guidance.

In general terms a speed awareness course can and should be offered if you exceed the speed limit within the margins of 10% plus 2mph and 10% plus 9mph and satisfy the other eligibility criteria (please see above).

By way of example if you are driving within a 30mph zone in excess of the speed limit at between 35 and 42mph, you will be eligible to attend on a speed awareness course.

Even in the event that you are marginally outside of these guideline speeds, the police may use their discretion to allow you to attend on a speed awareness course.

If you believe that you are eligible to attend on a speed awareness course and have not been offered the chance to, please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

Attending on a speed awareness course or driver improvement course does not amount to a criminal conviction.

The fact that you have completed a course will be retained on a National Database in order that the police have a record of when you have completed courses (you may only attend a similar course once every 3 years).

Most insurance companies do not penalise motorists for attending on a speed awareness or driver improvement course and will only take into account Fixed Penalty Notices or convictions before a Magistrates’ Court.

It is however, understood that there are a limited number of insurance companies who will ask you about speed awareness and driver improvement courses and who will increase your car insurance premium for attending on a course.

Our advice is to shop around and find someone who doesn’t and who will give you the best possible quote!

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong, then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

Most car insurance companies will not ask you to declare whether or not you have attended a speed awareness or driver improvement course, however if you are asked you should declare your attendance on such a course as failure to do so may result in your insurance policy being invalidated.

If you have not been offered a speed awareness or driver improvement course and believe that you should have been or have been offered one of these courses and don’t believe that you have done anything wrong, then please contact us for advice and a no obligation consultation on how we can help.

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