Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs Educational program (DUI).  The program was established in 2001, to educate people convicted of driving under the influence in Bermuda. Almost each day the Royal Gazette reports incidences of convictions of drivers driving "Under the Influence" of alcohol and drugs.  The number of convictions has been steadily increasing as has the number of personal injuries, property damage and deaths resulting from such conduct.  There is a need to ratify this situation


.  It has been established that persons convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) benefit from special education courses, and if the person is addicted to alcohol or drugs, given treatment as well.  The two-pronged approach reduces the repetition of driving offenses and the concomitant accidents that DUI causes.

            In the last 7 years in Bermuda there's been an average of 350 DUI arrests a year. Less than 20% of those participated in the DUI program. Most people in the DUI program are not casual social drinkers.  More than 70% are in different stages of alcoholism and are in either early, middle or late stages.  Most people are surprised to find out that they have more of a drinking problem than they thought while others already know that they need help.

It is a fact that in that 70 %  group of so called 'first offenders' we are not dealing with a group of innocuous well behaved social drinkers who happen to overdo it on occasion.  We are mainly dealing with alcoholics and high risk drinkers who often drive drunk.   Many are from the middle class and maintain regular employment; they are nevertheless like all offenders when it comes to their drinking behaviour. They are just people making dangerous choices.  So, the question now is, how can we make people stop doing it?!!  This leads  to the debate on preventing drunken driving recidivism.  That is, what has been found to make an impact on DUI offenders?  There are 2 approaches to dealing with drunk driving offenders.  The Punishment Approach or the Rehabilitation Approach.  It has been found in studies that the Punishment approach on its own, like for example giving someone a fine and taking someone off the road has little effect on drunk driving recidivism.  They found that there was a high likelihood that when an offender who was ONLY punished, returned to driving after a DUI arrest, that his or her behaviour was largely unchanged.  However, when the rehabilitation was a part of the consequence, particularly for first time offenders, the use of rehabilitation and education was the most effective way to deter drunk driving.

            The Law in Bermuda is;  A 1000 Dollar fine and 1 year off the road, with an OPTIONAL DUI program to gain 3 months off the license suspension...THE PUNISHMENT APPROACH with an OPTION to do the DUI Educational program, and only 20% of those offenders opt to do the DUI program.  That means that only 20% do the part that effects the changes in their drunk driving behaviour.  80% of DUI offenders in Bermuda get ONLY the punishment approach.  That is, the approach that makes little or no difference to change drunk driver's behaviour.  I find that scary..80% will probably go back to their past behaviours and endanger you, me, everyone on the roads by doing so

            Alcohol is a disease of denial and most people who are alcoholic do not want to admit it. Our job is to educate and try to break down the wall of denial.  The DUI Education and prevention program does not suggest to DUI Offenders that they must abstain from alcohol entirely or control their drinking to prevent a future DUI; rather, it teaches participants to prevent a future DUI by not driving their vehicles to drinking events.  Thus the emphasis of the curriculum is on controlling driving rather than controlling drinking to avoid future DUI convictions.  This DUI course does not present an assumption that all participants are alcoholics who must be forced to admit it. Rather, the information is provided and activities are focused upon allowing the participant to examine his/her own drinking behaviour in the context of a greater understanding of alcohol's effect and signs/symptoms of alcoholism

            In closing , I would like to ask the question "how big is the problem in Bermuda?" as you can see on T.V. and read in the newspapers we are losing many of our people in road traffic accidents and 70% of those accidents are alcohol related.   So, to sum up, we have a DUI program in Bermuda, but it is optional, and most offenders (80%) are choosing not to attend the classes   So I ask you all.what should be done?