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If you are going to court and your matter involves a driving offence there are many reasons why you should complete an approved traffic offenders program.

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Do I really need to do a traffic offenders program?

If you’re going to court you’ve probably heard about the “traffic offenders program”. You may have done some research yourself, or you’ve spoken to a lawyer who might have suggested you enrol in a traffic offenders’ program. You’re probably wondering, “what is it” and “Do I really have to spend my time doing it” The short answer is yes, you probably should do it – and here’s why.

What is the Traffic Offenders Program?

The traffic offenders intervention program (TOIP) is a road safety education course. The delivery of traffic offenders programs is regulated by Part 9 of the Criminal Procedure Regulation (2017) NSW. It is designed to teach attendees about road safety. Programs are delivered in class-room style environments and shouldn’t have more than 30 people. Discussion is often encouraged to ensure participants get the most out of their attendance.

To meet the legislated requirements TOIP providers must cover the following 8 modules as a minimum:

  • Impact of crashes and traffic offences
  • Speeding
  • Drink Driving
  • Drug driving
  • Fatigue
  • Mobile phone use and distraction
  • Vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists)
  • Vehicle safety and maintenance

Is the traffic offenders program only for traffic offences?

If you are going to court and your matter involves a driving offence it’s probably worth talking to a criminal and traffic lawyer to see if you should do a program. People facing the following matters generally complete a traffic offenders program:

What’s the point in doing it?

There are a number of reasons why you should attend a traffic offenders program before the court directs you to do it. Some of those reasons are:

  • It shows that you are taking the matter seriously
  • It shows you are taking positive steps to rehabilitate and reform
  • It means you are less likely to reoffend
  • The guideline judgement on drink driving recognised its importance
  • Programs teach things that people have never known, or have long forgotten
  • It dispels common myths and misconceptions about drinking and driving and speeding

What if I don’t want to do a traffic offenders program?

If you refuse to attend or say that you can’t because you are too busy the court may draw the conclusion that you do not respect the privilege it is to hold a drivers licence. Perhaps you are even less likely to obey the road rules given this attitude.

Not being willing or able to put yourself through the inconvenience of attending the program indicates to a magistrate that you have no insight into the seriousness of criminal and traffic offences and appearing before a court. Refusing or failing to complete a traffic offenders program may also see the court giving you less of a discount on your sentence. 

If you have done a TOIP before and have court for another offence, you should speak with a specialist lawyer about the utility in doing it again. Doing the TOIP again can be a double-edged sword. 

How can I use my attendance TOIP to my advantage?

One of the main benefits of attending the traffic offenders program is that the magistrate hearing your matter is able to see that you have gained clear, accurate and independent information about road safety. 

Not only is it a good idea to give the magistrate your certificate of completion so that they can take that into account when deciding your penalty, but you should also explain to them that in a letter of apology, what you have learned at the program, how that information has affected you, and why it means you will not reoffend.

Can I just do the traffic offenders program online?

At present the traffic offenders program can be completed in a variety of ways. Some providers offer partial or complete online courses. Provided you complete an approved course it will be taken into account. Courts are aware which courses are face to face and which courses can be completed all or partially online. Understandably, greater weight may be placed on a course requiring your physical attendance. At present the TOIP Guidelines are being updated and it is expected that they will specify that the course is to be delivered face to face and not online.

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