NICRO Chairperson, Judge Nathan Erasmus, has the following message to all South Africans: “At this time of year when we enjoy a break from work and getting together with family and friends, NICRO strongly supports responsible drinking. Don’t drink and drive. Be Safe. Be Responsible. Arrive Alive!”

A dedicated NICRO 24-Hour Hotline which assists South African drivers facing criminal charges relating to road traffic offences, such as driving under the influence of intoxicating substances and reckless and negligent driving, was launched in the Western Cape in November 2014 and has been extended until 31 May 2015.

By calling the NICRO 24-Hour Hotline, DUI offenders who are at least 18 years of age will gain access to immediate, critical support and possible inclusion into NICRO interventions such as counselling, the Road Offences Panel Programme and Community Service. This allows DUI offenders, who have been carefully assessed and found suitable, to participate in needs based behavioural and psycho-educational interventions and programmes, either as a diversion or non custodial sentencing option.

All interventions with DUI offenders are specifically designed to improve the offender’s awareness of the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence, as well as reckless and negligent driving. The Road Offenses Panel Programme, which is mainly a psycho-educational programme, is rendered in combination with other therapeutic programmes, as indicated by the individual person’s need during assessment. Its purpose is to have a positive influence on reducing the incidence of drunk driving and keeping South Africans safe on the road.

48 police stations are participating in the campaign. The NICRO hotline posters are displayed at the police stations and pamphlets are distributed by the participating police station staff on duty.

NICRO CEO, Soraya Solomon, says that this programme is not a soft option or a get-out-of-jail-free card. “Although the consequences of the drunken driving offence will not involve going to prison, such offenders will nevertheless be held accountable and, if sentenced to a non-custodial option, will receive a criminal record. They will be required to take responsibility, make amends and face up to the consequences of their actions,” Solomon explains.

NICRO firmly believes that incarceration is not the best option for offenders who have been convicted of DUI offenses. Sitting behind bars without structured rehabilitation interventions does nothing to change a person’s behaviour. Thousands of sentenced offenders are sent to prison and are later released with the same behavioural problems or, at times, problems that have been exacerbated. Being locked up with hardened offenders who exhibit extreme criminal behaviour and thought patterns hardly serves as an encouragement to behaviour change. In contrast, the prison experience may lead the DUI offender down a path of more serious crime.

The NICRO 24-Hour Hotline not only facilitates access to a specialist intervention which has a positive influence on reducing drunk driving, but in addition helps demonstrate how detrimental alcohol abuse can be and equips DUI offenders to steer clear of further problems with alcohol. This alcohol and road offences initiative also dramatically reduces the workload and lessens the burden on the formal criminal justice system.

NICRO’s 24 hour DUI hotline number, which remains open until 31 May 2015, is 072 184 6483.

For enquiries about the hotline, the Road Offences Panel Programme or other NICRO services, please contact:
Campaign Spokesperson
Arina Smit
Manager: Clinical Unit & Programme Design and Development
Mobile: 082 200 6400
Issued by:
NICRO (National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders)
1 Harrington Street
Cape Town