If you are ever caught doing a heinous villainy upon the road while astride your motorcycle, your lawyer may direct you to attend a ‘program’.
The idea is that when you appear before a magistrate, reeking of wickedness with your licence in tatters, the fact you have done a ‘program’ may influence the magistrate to show you some leniency.
I recently attended one such program at the behest of my lawyer, and I came away with several impressions which may be of interest to my fellow motorcyclists. Because, but for the grace of the Road Gods, you too may one day find yourself spreadeagled like a mewling sacrifice upon the Altar Of The State.
So it’s best that you know what awaits you. And it’s instructive to know what kind of spurious bullshit you’re going to force-fed under the guise of ‘rehabilitation’.
In NSW there are several such ‘programs’. I will not refer to them by name because my lawyer said I shouldn’t and I always do what my lawyer tells me to do. But you can look them up on the Internet.
They are all much of a muchness.
And they will cost you money and time. And your soul will shriek in despair. But that’s what you get for committing atrocities against the Motor Traffic Act.
Here’s what happened to me…
A while back, I was clocked doing 144 in a 100 zone on a deserted country road out the back of Dubbo. Guilty as charged. No issue. Wasn’t the first time and it will not be the last time.
My lawyer felt that if I did a ‘program’, it would assist my defence when I presented myself to the court to ask that the three-month suspension be reduced.
“Magistrates love the program,” she said.
“Then I shall do the program,” I declared.
I went on-line to register myself for the course.
It’s a one-day deal. It costs $165 which the website told me has to be paid up front and is not refundable and they will not accept cash on the day.
I paid and on the Saturday in question presented myself at 8am at a western Sydney RSL club where the ‘program’ would be held.
I was not alone. The space in front of the RSL club looked like a Monday morning at the local courthouse. Every conceivable kind of type-cast scumbag was out the font with me. The entire cross-section of Australian road-evil was present. Over-muscled Lebs with bum-bags, Smartphone-addicted Asian ladies, and HSV-revving bogans with driving thongs. I was the sole representative of the bikie-terrorist shitheel contingent.
Just before eight, the security guard let us in and we proceeded to the back of the club, where a well-fed Islander lady asked us to fill out a form, and if we hadn’t yet paid, to do so. She indicated the location of a Handy Teller we could access. So much for ‘no cash accepted on the day’, I thought.
Then we entered a room full of chairs and it began.
I just hope I am capable of describing the horrific farce that ensued for the next eight hours. My mind has sought to purge the day from my memory like a man’s stomach would purge a diseased pork roll that’s been nommed in a fit of drunken madness. I have fought the purge, heroically, I might add. But only so that I may raise awareness, which is, in these modern times, the highest form of human altruism.
Now remember, these courses are sold to punters as a form of ‘rehabilitation’. In other words, what I paid for was meant to somehow re-program me and set me upon the path of righteousness for safety’s sake.
Is that what happened? You’re kidding, right? No.
Was it a waste of my money? No – but I’ll get to that.
Was it a scam? You will have to judge that for yourself.
Of course, no-one in that room (and there were 50-odd of us, which at $165 a pop makes for a cool $8250 minus room-hire and maybe a speaker’s fee or two) wanted to be there. Most of them (about 80 per cent) were there on DUI charges.
We were all compelled to be there by lawyers or courts – well, except for one badly groomed mandrill. This degenerate was clearly there because his eager attendance completed him as a person and he relentlessly engaged every speaker with inane questions, personal anecdotes and bizarre observations. I was hoping the three middle-eastern crime figures seated behind him would shunt a shiv into his elongated skull at some stage, but it was not to be. So I made happy plans to beat him like a braying mule at the end of the day in the carpark across the road, but he disappeared at light-speed. There was no end to my disappointments that day…
SESSION ONE – THE AMBO
She was cute. She told us we were to disregard the accepted paradigm (and the instructions we’d get after dialling 000) about not moving accident victims, and that we were to immediately create an airway no matter what. Broken spines be fucked. Make the fucker breathe, initiate chest compressions and make sure you’re doing it when the ambos arrive because if you’re not making an effort to revive the corpse, then they will pronounce it dead (if it’s dead) and move on. She showed us some ancient Internet videos of people being run over and some even old Victorian TAC commercials. She perpetuated the lie about how the road toll is going up, even when official figures indicate the road toll is actually going down.
PERSONAL REHABILITION IMPACT: Zero. Just be aware that if I come upon you lying by the side of the road or in the mangled wreck of your car, I will create an airway for you. Even if I have to use my penknife to cut some gills into your neck and powder your spine in the process. I will also cave in your chest, because if I haven’t broken your sternum and ribs during chest compression, I’m not doing it right.
SESSION TWO – THE DRIVING INSTRUCTOR
What a cunt. What an over-arching, all-encompassing, contemptuous, supercilious, condescending cunt. He hated everyone in that room, and declared that Red Bull must be banned immediately. He also told us that if we drive with a car window down, the structural integrity of the car is reduced by 70 per cent. He also informed us that a red light means stop, an amber light means stop and a green light also means stop. He then declared the national speed limit is 50km/h. I got the impression that he felt he was the only person on this earth that was fit to drive a car, and that the sooner we were all jailed the better his world would be. He also lied about the road toll going up.
PERSONAL REHABILITION IMPACT: Less than zero. I resolved to ride with even more disdain and aggression in the hope that he would see me and that it would piss him off so much a cardiac infarction would see him into the next world.
SESSION THREE – THE INSURANCE TWONK
Nice bloke. Teddy bear nice. Probably gives great cuddles. Told us he was currently unemployed, but that he’d had a wonderful career in the insurance industry prior to Centrelink. My brain was bleeding five minutes after he started talking. He spoke about the three kinds of insurance available to drivers. He spoke about it over and over and over. Then he showed us some pictures he found on the Internet of car accidents. While he was doing that, he spoke about the three kinds of insurance available to drivers. Then he spoke about the three kinds of insurance available to drivers. Then he spoke about that again. I thought I had begun to menstruate at one stage.
PERSONAL REHABILITION IMPACT: Nothing. At all. Everything I already knew about insurance was simply repeated to me for an hour.
SESSION FOUR – THE LAWYER
Clearly, he was the only speaker being paid to be here. Clearly, he also understood the gathered road-scum would be after free legal advice.
Clearly, he was smarter than that and told them to keep all their questions for the end of the session. I think he would have defended pro bono anyone who murdered that chattering shit-boil I mentioned earlier, and who tortured him at the end of the session. The lawyer also put up a series of slides highlighting the penalties for first and second offences and told us how many of his clients had been forced to move to another country after losing their licenses for a billion years. He also told the bogans not to wear thongs to court, not to lie in the references they brought to the court, and not to imagine for one second that magistrates were stupid.
PERSONAL REHABILITION IMPACT: Nada. I already knew what dire medieval punishments await the ne’er-do-well. It’s never had any bearing on my behaviour. I have always wanted to live in Fiji, anyway. The climate is most appealing.
SESSION FIVE – THE DRUG & ALCOHOL EXPERT
The nice Islander lady who made us fill out the forms was the also one who presented this module. Her qualifications? She was a prison screw in New Zealand and she worked in a mortuary. What she didn’t know about drugs was vast, but did that stop her from holding forth? Not in the least. She also showed us pictures she’d found on the Internet, predominantly of alleged drug addicts and brain scans of brains allegedly affected by drugs. She told us how if we smoke dope and drive and intend to stop at Point A (a chair), we would actually stop at Point B (another chair five feet away from the first chair). “It is what it is,” she said over and over in case anyone had any doubts about what ‘it’ might possibly be. She told us how methamphetamine was the scourge of humanity, but did not comment on whether it impaired your ability to drive; possibly because the world’s fighter pilots are all whacked on speed, so it would be difficult to run with the impairment thing. I didn’t want to get into it with her, because that would only have prolonged everyone’s misery. But I did discover that MDMA is a hallucinogen, which I did not know and is contrary to my experience. And everyone else’s experience. Still, ‘it’ remained ‘it’ the whole time. Which was a nice constant, I thought.
PERSONAL REHABILITION IMPACT: Another zero. One is not permitted to drive with point-oh-five alcohols in your system, which I knew. There is no known number of cannabises you’re permitted to have, or speeds, or heroins, or LSDs, or Zanaxes (they only test for THC, speed, and MDMA), and the legislation only speaks to the presence of drugs in your system, and not if they impair your ability to drive or not.
SESSION SIX – THE VICTIM
A young bloke who had been injured as a child-passenger in a car, now attends these programs and tells everyone about his tragedy. And how he fought his way back from brain-injury, etc. Good on him. I could have done without the playing of a terrible country-and-western ballad written by a cowboy in the USA for people who have been injured on the road, but hey, if the brain-injured bloke wants to play music, I say let him play music.
PERSONAL REHABILITION IMPACT: Yeah, nah. Nothing. I empathised with his plight, being somewhat crippled up myself, and applauded his struggle to regain some semblance of normality in his life. Was I rehabilitated by his story? No.
So did rehab work? No. How could it?
There was no rehabilitative aspect to it whatsoever.
We all had to fill out a seven page booklet during the course – the answers to all the questions were provided, and it was stressed that we were to pay special attention to the last page, where we were to write about how the program had affected us, and refer specifically to the program in our essay. This is the bit the magistrate’s tend to look at.
Did it affect the magistrate’s decision? Hard to say. In my case, the magistrate certainly read my brilliant one-page dissertation on how the program impacted on my future behaviour. In my friend’s case (he went down for doing 150-something in an 80 zone), the magistrate didn’t even look at his wondrous babbling.
I got a month knocked off the three-month suspension, so I view that as a win. How much impact the ‘program’ had on that is simply impossible to say.
Every magistrate is different. Everyone’s driving record (this plays a big part) is different, and everyone actual personal circumstances vary greatly.
Is it worth doing? Well, I’m of the view that having sex with a plough-horse is worth doing if it will help the magistrate go easy on you.
You, of course, will make your own decisions.
I’m just raising awareness.
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Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.