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Pay a Fine or Attend a Course? Police Referral Courses Explained

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 24 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Driving Course Police Speeding Awareness

If a driver is caught driving too fast, running a red light, drinking and driving or just driving in a generally careless manner, then they might be given the opportunity to attend a training course rather than facing prosecution and getting penalty points applied to their licence.

These courses are known collectively as 'police referral courses' and offenders cannot request to be sent on them. They can only be offered by the police to motorists who fit their criteria - i.e. first time offenders, or those who were speeding while still under a certain 'cut-off' limit.

National Driver Improvement Scheme

The most commonly offered course of this type is the National Driver Improvement Scheme or NDIS. Offered throughout England, Scotland and Wales, it is operated through each of the 43 police forces spread across the land. Courses cover theory and practical driving skills and will utilise modern training methods to re-educate motorists and help them to improve their existing skills and reduce bad habits.

Who Can Attend This Course?

This course will be offered to those drivers who have been found to be driving without due care and attention, such as running a red light - as long as:
  • there is reasonable chance that they can be successfully prosecuted
  • there was no serious injury and no-one was killed when the offence took place
  • there are no other offences (such as driving a defective vehicle) to be considered
  • the driver has not been on a driver improvement course in the last 36 months.
The driver be given the option of either having the incident referred across to the Crown Prosecution Service and receiving a fine and/or points on their licence or going on the course offered.

After completing the course, the police will inform the driver that they are not taking any further action - however if the driver is involved in another similar incident within the next 3 years, then they won't be able to take part in another NDIS.

Speed Awareness Course

This scheme has been in place since 2005 and when this course is offered to drivers, they have the option of attending a Speed Awareness Scheme course instead of getting a £60 fine and the application of 3 penalty points on their licence.

Who Can Attend This Course?

Drivers who are found to be speeding up to a certain speed, depending on the limit that the local police force set. There are different speeds for different police forces. As long as a driver is below this cut-off point then they may be offered the opportunity to take the Speed Awareness course which will introduce them to the dangers and consequences of driving too fast. The driver will be asked to pay a course fee of between £60-£100 instead of paying a fine and getting penalty points. Usually the course costs the same amount or slightly more than the fine the driver will still have to pay if they refuse to take the course.

Drink/Drive Rehabilitation Course

Since January 2000, certain drink-driving offenders have been offered the opportunity to attend a rehabilitation course.

Who Can Attend This Course?

The courses are offered at the courts discretion and if they are completed successfully then the period of driving disqualification can be reduced by 25%. The court can make orders when the offender has been banned for 12 or more months after being found guilty of:
  • Causing death by dangerous driving when drunk or high on drugs
  • Driving or being in charge of a vehicle when drunk or high on drugs
  • Driving or being in charge of a vehicle when drunk or not producing a specimen on request
Usually those who have committed such an offence for the first time will be offered the option of taking this course.

These courses may also be offered to people who have been found to be HRO's or High Risk Offenders, such as those who have been:

  • banned from driving due to a second drunk-driving offence in ten years
  • banned for not providing a specimen on request
  • banned for being two and a half times or more over the limit

If you are offered one of these courses, it's well worth considering taking up the offer. You'll save yourself from getting penalty points, which can save you money on your insurance premium, and what's more you might learn something useful.

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I have recently been sent a speeding fine form which I have filled in and sent off. I have then been sent another form about either being fined or taking a driving course. Before I have decided what to do however I have now been sent a letter from the AA about this! - starting with a bossy, accusatory tone and then touting for me to take the driving course option with them! The AA can FECK OFF! I have been with this firm for breakdown cover since I started driving 30 years ago and, if they think they can send me a letter like this, TO HELL WITH THEM! My fine is between me and the police- full stop! My details should NOT be forwarded to an outside, third party OF INTERFERRING BUSY-BODIES AND NOSEY PARKERS until I have decided which option to take! How DARE the police pass on information about me to a third party without my consent! I am now deciding to go to court over this. I am absolutely furious with both the DERBYSHIRE police and the AA!
hoppingmad - 25-Jan-13 @ 11:25 AM
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