Home > Best practices: Treatment and rehabilitation for driving while impaired offenders.

Health Canada. (2004) Best practices: Treatment and rehabilitation for driving while impaired offenders. Ottawa: Health Canada.

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The aim of this report is to bring together current knowledge on the planning and delivery of driving while impaired (DWI) remedial programs (i.e. education programs and treatment and rehabilitation programs). There is now a reasonably extensive literature concerning remedial programs for impaired driving offenders and good scientific evidence for their general effectiveness. The research reviewed and the experts consulted in the preparation of this report point to a number of practices that contribute to effectiveness; where the evidence warrants, these practices have been identified as best practices, and are as follows:

Remedial education and treatment programs:
1. Remedial programs should occupy an integral place in a comprehensive impaired driving countermeasure program. Participation in such programs should be a condition of licence reinstatement for all persons convicted of an impaired driving offence.
2. Remedial programs should also be an integral part of comprehensive efforts to reduce driving while impaired by drugs other than alcohol. Participation in such programs should be a condition of licence reinstatement for all persons convicted of a drug-related driving offence.

Different types of remedial interventions for different types of DWI offenders:
3. Comprehensive remedial programs for convicted impaired drivers should incorporate at least two levels of intervention for individuals with differing levels of substance use and related problems.
4. All programs for convicted DWI offenders should incorporate both educational and therapeutic activities, regardless of program length.
5. Mandatory clinical follow-up after licence reinstatement should be required for all DWI offenders sent to remedial programs.

Identification issues:
6. All convicted DWI offenders should complete a screening/assessment process to inform decisions about the most appropriate level or type of intervention.
7. Instruments that have been shown to be of value in assessing alcohol and drug use problems and recidivism risk should form part of the screening procedure. The performance of these instruments should be monitored on an ongoing basis.

Programs that combine treatment with other measures:
8. Remedial programs should supplement, not replace, licensing actions.

When DWI offenders are not processed through the courts:
9. Individuals who receive pre-conviction roadside suspensions for impaired driving should be considered for referral to assessment and participation in remedial programs.

Governance and training issues:
10. Remedial programs should be located in an environment in which a behavioural health perspective and treatment orientation are well established and can be maintained.
11. Those providing remedial services to DWI offenders should be trained in substance use issues, and in adult education (particularly those delivering educational interventions) and group facilitation (particularly those delivering more therapeutic interventions).
12. Those providing remedial measures programs to convicted impaired drivers should be supported in accessing provincial or national training opportunities on an annual or biennial basis.

Relationships between DWI programs and licensing authorities:
13. Remedial programs should be operated using an administrative model, where program completion is a requirement for relicensing.
14. Remedial programs should be operated by an agency other than the licensing authorities.
15. There is a need for formal and clear mechanisms for coordination and collaboration between licensing authorities and remedial programs to ensure reciprocal exchange of information to serve the best interests of clients and the public.

Payment structures:
16. Measures should be taken to reduce the financial burden for offenders, particularly those who are assigned to more expensive program options. This could include applying a single blended fee for all clients, or providing some form of financial assistance for low-income clients.

Program evaluation and research:
17. Evaluation should be an integral part of any remedial measures program.
18. Program evaluation and research costs should be built into program budgets.
19. More emphasis should be placed on quality assurance, and studies of the cost-effectiveness of programs and their component parts.

This study has also pointed to gaps in current processes, knowledge and research that need to be explored, including but not limited to: 1) whether programs should be gender specific or age specific; 2) how best to serve Canada’s ethno-culturally diverse populations; 3) which screening tools may be superior in identifying levels of substance use problems; 4) how to respond to the needs of those convicted of drug-impaired driving; 5) how to promote high standards of effective and efficient programming and program evaluation across Canada.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Guideline, Report
Drug Type
Alcohol, All substances
Intervention Type
Treatment method, Harm reduction, Crime prevention, Psychosocial treatment method, Rehabilitation/Recovery
109 p.
Health Canada
Corporate Creators
Health Canada
Place of Publication
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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