Posts Tagged ‘ontario back on track program’
The other day, I wrote that I had attended the education session of Ontario’s “Back On Track” program – the remedial program that drivers in Ontario who are convicted of alcohol related driving offenses must attend prior to having their drivers license reinstated.
As I previously wrote, the facilitators of the education class were very good. They did a great job at keeping the day moving along and although I was expecting a long dry boring day, that was not the case.
In my class, there were 23 people scheduled in however one was a “no show.” Unless that person that did not show up has a reason such as serious illness or death in the immediate family, they have forfeited the approximately $600.00 they paid and will be marked as a “fail.” If that person wants their license back, they will have to reapply to the program and pay the fee again.
Upon my arrival, I noticed that there were a wide array of participants including all ages. There were some who were in their early 20′s as well as people in their mid to late 50′s. Both men and women were in attendance, and from every walk of life – unemployed to business professionals. Most of us were obviously concerned and ashamed of the fact that we were now officially “criminals” in the nation of Canada.
One of the things that was stressed by the facilitator was the element of confidentiality in regard to discussions that might take place in the classroom. The confidentiality was stressed due to the fact that many of us have perhaps chosen not to tell all of our family and associates about our drunk driving conviction. That confidentiality about personal details that some may share in the classroom was asked to be held in the utmost of respect.
The facilitators did want us to participate, ask questions if we had any, and at the very start of the day, introduce ourselves and tell the class how we arrived at the classroom session. We were also asked what the hardest thing for us has been since our impaired driving charge.
After our own brief introductions, the facilitators began their own introduction to the program and stressed the following:
1. They were not there to give the attendees a “hard time” about drinking or about their drinking and driving conviction
2. The classroom session was intended to provide information and assistance with tools we could take back with us to prevent drinking and driving in the future.
3. We were encouraged to share what we had learned with family and friends to help them prevent a situation where they might drink and drive.
4. That there was not just “one type” of person that is at risk of drinking and driving: Rather, anyone who drinks and has a drivers license could be at risk, regardless of their walk in life, their gender, their background, their race, creed or colour.
5. That the intention of the program was not to be “anti-alcohol.” In fact, the two facilitators stated that they themselves drank on social occasions. Rather, the classroom session was to help drivers separate the behaviors of drinking and driving.
In accomplishing their goals, I feel the facilitators did a very good job. They pointed out that they were not going to ask us to stop drinking – that was a personal choice. Some perhaps had chosen to completely stop drinking alcohol after they were caught driving impaired while others had made choices to continue drinking – but the point was to separate drinking from driving.
As well, there was information provided about how alcohol is metabolized by the body, the many factors that can contribute to the length of time it takes for alcohol to be broken down into carbon dioxide and water completely (to where there is a blood alcohol concentration of zero), as well as information about health risks of heavy drinking.
Some of the information I have to admit I found a bit extreme – such as the suggestion that if you’ve had 5 drinks on one occasion, you are “binge” drinking according to medical studies on the affects of alcohol. But at the same time, it is useful to have a variety of opinions and understanding how those opinions are formed.
The session wasn’t just all about alcohol education either. One of the things I found very interesting was that the facilitators spent quite a bit of time on Canadian Law and helping people understand what exactly “Care and Control” of a vehicle could mean. Many might be shocked to learn about the situations that they could possibly be convicted of “Care and Control While Under the Influence” – indeed, one of the odd situations applied to one of the persons in attendance at this session. I’ll discuss that in a later post.
As well as legal information, the facilitators spent some time discussing with us how we could eventually apply for a pardon for our drunk driving convictions. I thought this too was very good and certainly showed that the intent of the classroom session was not to make us all feel bad, but rather to assist us going forward.
In the afternoon, we learned about how we can modify our own behaviors and thoughts by examining the thoughts we had that lead up to our own “incidents” and being aware of them. By learning this, we could make better decisions in the future about occasions where alcohol might be a factor, both planned and unplanned events.
All in all, it was an interesting and informative day. Personally, I still think that the $600.00 fee is extreme though – it is almost as if there are financial penalties upon financial penalties in relation to this particular crime that are extreme and are not found in the same degree as other crimes. But that is my opinion, and as the facilitators pointed out near the beginning of the day, “We know there are many things about impaired driving, the rules, regulations and more that you think are unfair. But, we’re not hear to discuss the fairness or lack thereof – that’s not our job, and we’re not going to engage in debate about this. We’re only hear to give you information about what is, and what you can do to prevent this again in the future.”
Whether or not the $600.00 fee is “fair” or “justified” after taking into consideration all the other financial penalties is for another discussion. If you’re in Ontario, you have to pay the fee and take the course if you want your license back. And after taking the course, and wondering what it was going to be all about, I know there are others who are in the same position and what I can now say is that if you have an attitude of being interested and learning, you’ll get a lot out of the day. You may even find that it will motivate you to take a closer look at your own alcohol use (like it did for me) and not necessarily make drastic changes, but changes that will be helpful to you and others you love.
My thoughts on the assessment portion of the Back On Track program.
The homework that is assigned after the Back On Track Assessment
The first exercise in the participant workbook – homework assigned before you attend the education class
There were several reasons why I started this blog. One was to have an outlet through writing about my own experience and hopefully if found by others, it might prevent someone from taking the risk of driving while impaired.
Secondly, there is and continues to be the motivation for earning revenues. I’m not going to mince words: My mistake has cost me big time financially. And it’s worse than for most people who are charged and convicted of impaired driving – the majority of impaired drivers are caught at a roadside test or are pulled over by the police before an accident occurs. I had an accident. My insurance company views my accident as a breach of contract and therefore will not pay for repairs to a vehicle that I am still making payments on.
I needed that vehicle in order to drop in and visit clients. I needed that vehicle in order to spend time with my kids who do not live with me. So in addition to the legal costs, the fine, the restitution, the lawyer’s fees, there have been other financial and emotional costs. I needed to find a way to turn that into some kind of positive or some way to help myself pay for my mistakes. So certainly, there is a financial goal of this blog as well – although at this point, it has not even come close to helping pay what is going to be to most people (myself included) an enormous debt. But writing is one thing I can do.
Thirdly, when I had my accident and was charged, I wanted and had a need for information. There was very little information out there. There was bits and pieces of information from lawyer’s websites, from the Ministry of Transportation websites, the Federal Government website, and other sites here and there. I hoped I could, through my own writing and experience, document my experience and in doing so, perhaps help others that might end up going through something similar to me.
In Ontario, a convicted driver of an alcohol related driving offense must attend the Back On Track Program. However, there is no information as to what it entails other some stuff about paying an enormous fee (600.00), going for an “assessment,” and attending treatment and/or education. What is it? How does it run? I had no idea. No one seemed to have any information about what any of this entailed. What should I expect? How should I prepare? No one seemed to really know, and I don’t know anyone personally who’s been convicted of an alcohol related offense in recent years to talk with.
So that was another motivation for this website.
Well, I’ve attended my education class. I will write more about it in Part Two. Before I write more detail however, let me say that it was quite well done. The information was very good, and the facilitators were excellent. Worth paying $600.00 for? I’ll have comments on that as well – and perhaps some ideas on how to make it better.
If you’re scheduled to begin participation in the “Back on Track” program, first of all, don’t fret. Yes, it is expensive – but it is a decent program – in most respects. At least the one I participated in thus far has been facilitated by excellent people who have done a very good job.
In the meantime…. Related Posts:
My thoughts on the assessment portion of the Back On Track program.
The homework that is assigned after the Back On Track Assessment
The first exercise in the participant workbook – homework assigned before you attend the education class
Shortly, I will be attending the education portion of the Back On Track program in Ontario. After a participant in Ontario’s “Remedial Program” attend the assessment portion, if they are assessed as only requiring education, they are provided a workbook and homework is assigned.
The first bit of homework (other than keeping a log book of daily alcohol consumption) is a true and false exercise. I found all of the questions to be simple to answer.
1. Exercising will help to sweat off alcohol. True or False
False. While a very small amount of alcohol may be expelled through sweat, the majority of alcohol (over 90%) needs to be broken down by the liver. This process takes time – and an individual consumes alcohol faster than the rate it can be broken down.
2. A bottle of beer is just as intoxicating as a drink with one shot of liquor. True or False
True. A standard shot of liquor that is 40% alcohol is 1.5 oz. A standard bottle of beer which contains 5% alcohol is 12 oz. Each one contains about the same total amount of alcohol.
3. The relaxing effect of alcohol can often improve your driving. True or False.
False. Alcohol begins to affect your fine motor control in your brain within minutes of being consumed and can affect reflexes negatively.
4. The best way to sober up before driving is to take a short nap. True or False.
False. While a nap may help pass some of the time it takes for your liver to process the alcohol, it will not speed up the process.
5. Coffee or a cold shower will sober you up. True or False.
False. Neither will speed up the rate your liver processes alcohol.
6. Alcohol is a stimulant or “upper.” True or False.
False. Alcohol is actually a depressant.
7. I can be charged with impaired driving only if I register over 0.08% on a breathalyser. True or False.
False. You can be charged with impaired driving simply because your driving is impaired by any amount of alcohol or drugs. You can only be charged (in Canada) with operating a vehicle with a BAC of over 0.08 if you register over 0.08 on a breathalyser. “Impaired Driving” and “Over 80″ are two different criminal charges in Canada.
8. My own drinking is my own business and nobody else’s. True or False.
False, at least in my case. My drinking is also the business of my loved ones and those who love me.
9. I will be okay to drive if I drink a beer an hour. True or False.
False. Although this is a rule of thumb that many use, it actually takes on average, 2 hours for the liver to process and breakdown alcohol contained in one standard drink. As well, it is difficult to always know the exact rate of metabolism of alcohol due to a wide variety of factors.
10. I am solely responsible for my drinking. True or False.
True. No one else is pouring it down my throat.
11. I can predict and control the amount I drink. True or False
My response to this is True. There are a number of ways I can predict and control the amount I drink.
12. All impaired driving charges are preventable. True or False.
True. Through planning ahead and being responsible, all impaired charges can be prevented.
An update on yesterday’s post. Some discouraging news on a couple of fronts. As I wrote yesterday, I was of the belief that all I needed to do in order to apply for the reinstatement of my driver’s license after the impaired driving conviction was to pay the fines, begin participation in the Back On Track program, and then take out a contract with Guardian Interlock for an ignition interlock device. I had been lead to believe that the ignition interlock device did not actually have to be installed in a vehicle. Rather, I needed to lease one for any vehicle I might get, and of course, any time I drive it must be in a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock.
I called Guardian Interlock earlier and spoke with one of their representatives who advised me that under the new program in Ontario, I need to actually have the interlock device installed in a vehicle in order to get early reinstatement of my driver’s license. Under the old rules, you could get your license back after a full year suspension, and then simply not drive while you are in the next one year period where you are required to use an interlock device when driving.
So, in order to have a contract with Guardian (which I need prior to applying to have my license reinstated), I need to have a vehicle.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I was in an accident, and that my vehicle was written off. Damage estimates were at over $14,000.00. However, a very good and kind relative of mine put me in touch with a auto body mechanic who suggested he might be able to repair the damage for considerably less than the insurance company’s estimate.
Well, I called him today. He told me he believed that with parts and labour, I’m looking at close to $8,000.00 to have it repaired. I just don’t have that kind of money.
I don’t expect to get that kind of money in the next few months. And I’m still making loan payments on the vehicle.
So it’s back to the drawing board to figure out how exactly I’ll get my license back. DUI penalties can really hurt and it’s very difficult to overcome all of the expenses and conditions that they create. Please don’t get yourself into the situation I’ve found myself in.
If you drink, just don’t drive. Or get yourself your own personal breathalyzer so you know what your limits are, and can know whether you’re safe to drive. They are inexpensive and well worth it compared to the costs of having one too many and not realizing you’re not fit to drive. Get it here.
As I’ve written previously, in Ontario a new program came into effect earlier this year, where if your guilty plea was entered on or after August 3, 2010, you plead guilty within 90 days of the alcohol related driving charge, and your fines are all paid up, it is possible to apply for an early reinstatement of your license. In fact, instead of waiting a full year, it might be possible to have it reinstated after three months.
It also must be your first offense. As well, you must have had at least the “Assessment” portion of the Back On Track Remedial program completed.
I’m still trying to work out the details, as now I am apparently eligible to apply to have my license reinstated. But there are some problems:
First, I don’t know if I’ll even have a vehicle on the date I’ll be able to get it back. The vehicle I was driving was written off by the insurance company, and they estimated over $14,000.00 in damages.
I’m not sure I could afford insurance after the DUI or Impaired Driving conviction.
I’m still paying on a bank loan for the vehicle – because I was convicted of an alcohol related driving offense, my insurance company views that as a breach of contract and therefore they are not going to pay the bank the balance of what is owing. I’ve got another 4 1/2 years to pay the loan off.
To be quite blunt, I am close to going bankrupt after all of the bills have come in, the fine and restitution has been paid, and I’ve not been able to keep up with my other debts. My income has suffered dramatically since the accident and impaired driving charge. With no vehicle, it’s been tough to get out there and call on clients and potential clients.
Having said that, there are some possibilities. At this point, it is my understanding that now that I’ve completed the Back On Track assessment, and my $1,300.00 fine is paid in full, I should be able to call Guardian Interlock and get a contract with them. It seems to me that I don’t actually have to have a vehicle to install the ignition interlock in, but I do need to provide proof of a contract with the company for one of their interlock devices.
Then, I can apply for my licence back, and when it is returned to me, it will have an “I” on it, which means I am not to drive any vehicle that does not have an ignition interlock installed. But at least I could have my license back, which would give me some options going forward.
My vehicle is at the premises of what I’m told a pretty good auto body mechanic. There is some possibility he could fix up my vehicle for a lot less than what the insurance company estimated the damages to be – but it’s still going to be a hefty price to pay in my present financial situation. But at least I’d have a vehicle that I wouldn’t feel so bad about making payments on.
If my financial situation improves, and I can then also afford the vehicle insurance, I’d have a vehicle to drive when that happens.
Tomorrow, I’m hoping to give Guardian Interlock a call to see what they have to say about getting a contract and what that entails.
I’ll post more as I learn more.
All this could have been avoided if I had my own personal breathalyzer. It would have been a much smaller price to pay than what I have paid after getting behind the wheel and thinking I was fine to drive.
The other day, I wrote about attending the “Assessment” portion of Ontario’s Remedial Back On Track program. I noted that I was provided a book along with some homework to complete prior to the Educational part of the Back On Track program, which is a requirement for all drivers in Ontario that have been convicted of an alcohol related driving offense.
I should point out first that the facilitator that I met with made it clear that there was no expectation that participants in the Back On Track program give up alcohol use completely. Rather, the aim is to educate about responsibility and risk. If a participant wishes to completely abstain from alcohol, that is fine but abstinence is not required nor expected.
Before my education class, there are several activities I must do and it is compulsory. Failure to do them may result in a fail for the program and forfeiture of the fee that I have paid, which is about $600.00 including HST. One of the tasks I must complete is to keep a daily log of my alcohol consumption. This log includes the type of drink (wine, beer, hard liquor) as well as any non-prescribed drugs. I must record how many drinks I had according to a standardized measurement (1 12 oz. beer = 1 drink, 5 oz (142 ml) wine = 1 drink) each day, who I was with, my mood that day, and whether I would have been a risk under the circumstances for driving impaired.
The next assignments include the “Education Program Participant Workbook 2nd Edition” that comes with the Back On Track program. I am required to complete page 4 of the workbook which consists of a dozen statements which are either true or false; read pages 17 to 21 which basically consist of information about the health effects of long term heavy drinking and then complete the exercises on pages 22 through 24 – a personal evaluation; read pages 41-42 followed by an exercise about the costs of impaired driving to me; and finally, to read pages 59, 60, 61, 65 & 66 which is a section on setting goals in regard to alcohol use.
None of the homework is terribly difficult, and will be simple enough to complete.
As required under Ontario Provincial legislation in order for me to apply for my driver’s license reinstatement, I recently attended the “assessment” portion of the Back On Track program. Part of the requirement is that you cannot drink 24 hours prior to any Back On Track meeting, including the assessment, education or treatment classes. With virtually no information as to what occurs during the Assessment meeting, I was quite nervous beforehand. I had not consumed any alcohol in about 3 full days but how would they know? Blood tests? Urine test? Actually there was no test, so it’s basically on the honour system.
The assessment meeting is where the driver convicted of an alcohol related driving offence in Ontario meets with a facilitator of the Back On Track program. The purpose of it is to determine whether the convicted person needs alcohol education or alcohol treatment. This is done by asking a series of questions. In my case, I was told that I only needed to participate in the education class, a 9 hour classroom session next month.
Some of the questions that are asked are extremely ambiguous. Some are even odd. Questions along the lines of:
“Can you like a person that is witty and humorous but who sometimes hurts other people’s feelings?”
“Do you speed up for yellow lights?”
“Does your hand ever shake?”
“Have you ever had to seek emergency medical help in the past 12 months for an accident?”
“Do you have trouble sometimes falling asleep or do you wake up during your sleep?”
There were of course questions about the use of both alcohol and drugs; how much on a weekly or daily basis is alcohol consumed and whether or not you use sleeping pills, tranquilizers or other drugs. Information about annual income was also requested apparently for statistical purposes.
I had to admit I had problems answering some of the questions as they were far to general in nature, and the meaning of them did not seem precise. I was told by the facilitator that there are plans in the works to revamp the whole assessment process including the questions that are asked. Apparently, some people who’s first language is not English have problems understanding and answering the questions.
The entire interview process lasted just under an hour. The interviewer was friendly and there were no lectures given. As each question was asked, my answer was inputted into a computer program, and at the end of the questions, some of which were of a “True or False” format, the computer program determined whether or not I required the treatment portion of the Back On Track program or just the education.
I am scheduled to attend the 9 hour education portion next month, and apparently 6 months later, there will be a final evaluation done with me over the phone.
I was also given a book to read along with some “homework” to be completed before the alcohol education class. I’ll write more about the book and homework in a later post.
After I was charged with Impaired Driving in Ontario, I became aware that I would be required to register for and participate in Ontario’s Back On Track remedial program. As mentioned previously, this program is a three part program with a follow up interview that is required in order to have your driver’s license reinstated in this Province.
When I tried to research this program, I found very few details and couldn’t even find out where I would have to attend the program. The offices are not listed on the Back On Track website.
After I was convicted, I registered for the program and the other day, I received a notice in the mail advising me that my fee had been processed. The notice advised me that it was now my responsibility to contact one of the providers of the Back On Track Program to arrange for my Assessment and further participation in the program.
According to the notice, the following are the offices in the Province of Ontario of the Back On Track providers. Locations marked with an asterisk provide the program in the French language as well as English:
Aurora / Newmarket
Addiction Service for York Region
Tel: 905.841.7007 ext. 331
Simcoe Outreach Services
Addictions Centre (Hastings/Prince Edward Counties) Inc.
Brampton / Mississauga (Peel)*
Peel Addiction Assessment & Referral Centre (PAARC)
St. Leonard’s Community Services
Tel: 519.754.0253 ext. 327
Burlington / Oakville
ADAPT Halton (Alcohol and Drug Assessment Prevention & Treatment)
Addiction Services of Eastern Ontario
Guelph / Kitchener
John Howard Society of Waterloo-Wellington
Tel: 519-836.1501 ext. 200 (Guelph)
Tel: 519.743.6071 ext. 305 (Kitchener)
Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Services
Frontenac Community Mental Health Services
Options For Change
Addiction Services of Thames Valley
Tel: 905.723.8195 ext. 211
Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
Pembroke / Renfrew*
Pathways Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services
Four Counties Addiction Services
Lambton County Addiction Services
Tel: 519.464.4500 ext. 5370
Community Addiction Service of Niagara
Stratford / Owen Sound
Choices For Change
Tel: 519.271.6730 ext. 40
Smiths Falls / Brockville
Tri County Addiction Services
Centre For Addiction and Mental Health
Tel: 416.535.8501 ext. 6138
Essex County Addiction Assessment Referral Service
Tel: 519.257.5111 ext. 76940
Bracebridge / Parry Sound
Muskoka Parry Sound
Bracebridge Tel: 705.645.1311
Parry Sound Tel: 705.746.7113
Lake of the Woods Addictions Services
Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing
Sault Ste Marie*
Algoma Public Health
Sudbury Counselling Centre
Tel: 705.524.9629 ext. 206
Thunder Bay Counselling Centre
Assessments – Tel: 807.684.1880
Messages After Hours – Tel: 807.684.1877
Sister Margaret Smith Centre
Course – 807.684.5113
South Cochrane Addiction Services
So there you have it – the full list of service providers of the Back On Track Remedial program in Ontario. If you live in a remote location, somehow you have to get to your appointments, on time and of course, you can’t drive there yourself.
You could save yourself the trouble of ever having an Impaired Charge by getting your own personal breathalyzer!
It’s been almost a week since I applied for Ontario’s “Back On Track” remedial program. I have heard nothing from them thus far. It’s a bit frustrating as I’d really like to get moving with it and do what I have to do in order to get my license reinstated in November.
I am going nuts almost, not being able to drive. Some days, I can handle it but then there are other days when I wish I could just jump into a car and run my own errands without having to rely on the schedules of others, or ask for help.
It’s now been over three months since the accident and the loss of my driving privileges. I can’t describe how this has affected my life and my ability to have control and independence over what I choose to do and where I choose to go.
All I can do is wait, and wait… and try to have some patience.
When I was sentenced and my conviction for impaired driving was registered, I was advised by my lawyer that I should apply immediately (that very day) for Ontario’s “Back On Track” program – the program that all convicted drivers of a DUI in Ontario must complete before they can apply for their license reinstatement.
You may have read that in Ontario, the Province recently instituted a new program where Ontario drivers who plead guilty within 90 days of Impaired Driving can apply for an early reinstatement of their license after just three months instead of having to wait an entire year. This came into effect on August 3, 2010. Neither the Judge or the Crown opposed me having the opportunity to make application for the early reinstatement of my license.
As soon as I returned home from Court, I applied on line for the Back On Track program, providing them my Visa number for the almost $600 program fee. However the next day, I received an email advising I needed to contact the Back On Track office to speak with a representative directly. When I called, I was advised that due to the new changes in the Ontario’s administration of Impaired Driving convictions, there was a “computer glitch” and there was no record of my conviction. Therefore, the Back On Track office could not process my application and I was told to wait another 10 days before applying again.
It was a bit disappointing as I had wanted to make sure I was in the system and get my “evaluation” done as soon as possible. The first part of the Back On Track program is an “evaluation” of one’s use of alcohol. After the evaluation, the program decides whether the convicted person needs either “alcohol education” and/or “alcohol treatment.”
Hopefully, I can get into this evaluation as soon as possible and start making the necessary adjustments including substantially increasing my income in order to pay for the much higher insurance premiums I will be facing if I can get my license reinstated in three months.
Of course, I will also have to have the “Ignition Interlock” installed in any vehicle I drive before I can get my license reinstated in Ontario, as well.
Do you enjoy the odd social drink and think you are ok to drive? Perhaps you should read this about my experience with a DUI.