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Solicitors hear court penalty can be mitigated by driving school attendance
Irish Road Victims Association puts pictures of crash victims outside Dáil Photo:Rollingnews.ie

16 Jan 2019 / courts Print

Solicitors hear court penalty can be mitigated by driving school attendance

Criminal law solicitors in the north-west are invited to the launch of an expanded pro-social drivers programme on Monday 28January at 7pm at the Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town.

Judge Kevin Kilrane will be chairing the launch of the safety initiative which seeks to improve the driving behaviour of higher risk groups of drivers.

The safety initiative will be expanded in Court District Number Two – parts of Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.

Court penalty

Referrals to the programme can be made by solicitors or by a court. In some instances, completion of the pro-social driving course can mitigate the court penalty.

The programme, which started in 2012, is the first of its kind in Ireland.

It was initiated by Michael Harrison of An Garda Síochána, Judge Kelly and probation officer Tim Coughlan.

Trained counsellors

All of the course facilitators are trained counsellors.

The five components are as follows:

  • Induction and interview with course facilitator,
  • Social responsibility,
  • Emotional control,
  • Driving under the influence/peer refusal skills, and
  • Consequences of anti-social driving behaviour.

If a client does not attend all of the sessions, he does not receive the certificate to present to the court.

Cognitive-based approach

The educational programme offers a cognitive-based approach and aims to address aspects of driver behaviour which are not directly associated with driver competency (poor driving) or driver behaviour (texting whilst driving).

The emphasis is on attitude formation through creating an awareness of the need for a positive mental attitude towards the use of the car itself, the rights and needs of passengers and respect for other road users.

The course consists of an assessment/registration interview and four sessions of three hours each.

Referrals

There are three streams of referrals:

  1. Direct from the court via judge or solicitor,
  2. Self-referrals, or
  3. Probation referrals.

The €200 fee can be paid through the pro-social Ireland website.

The board of directors for the programme is eager to expand into District Court Area 2.

Donegal continues to suffer among the highest number of road deaths in the State. Six people died there in 2017 while 10 died in 2016.

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