Prisoners at Arohata view the Last Choice Car wreck“Don’t drink and drive. Use your head. Get a sober driver or have a sleep. It’s made me realise it’s not worth the risk,” says Jane*, a prisoner in her early 30s in Arohata Prison who’s serving a sentence for driving-related offending.

Jane is one of the 20 women who participated in a one-day education and development programme in the prison aimed at preventing driver impairment and encouraging sensible decision-making, leading to increased road safety.

The programme’s activities included viewing a wrecked car from a drink and drug driving fatality, chatting with Police’s Traffic Alcohol Group, attempting physical challenges while wearing visual impairment goggles and hearing how post mortems are carried out.

Jane says the programme had real impact on her: “I don’t want to take my life or anyone else’s”.

The Alcohol Impairment Education Programme (AIEP) is a collaboration between Corrections, Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (formerly NZ Fire Service), road safety teams at Upper Hutt, Hutt City and Wellington councils, and Wellington SCL Mortuary.

“It’s an education programme that has the realities to make us stop and think about the decisions we make,” says Tracey Wernicki, the prison’s intervention co-ordinator.

The women from the prison’s drug treatment unit are the first group of prisoners to participate in the programme in the Wellington region.

“It builds on what they’re learning in here around actions and consequences,” says Teresa Knowles, Clinical Manager of the DTU for CareNZ who delivers the alcohol and drug programme in the prison.

“It’s about making good choices, connecting with how they feel, think and then act.”

District Road Policing Manager Inspector Jan Craig says:

“Police is committed to reducing harm on our roads and this programme is working to achieving just that. Through this programme Police works with our partners to break the cycle of recidivist drink driving."

“The programme gives participants the tools to reduce offending and assists with the decision making process to help prevent them driving impaired.”

The programme was held for community-based offenders in the Wellington district last year and has been adapted from a similar programme in the Bay of Plenty.

*not her real name