DUI school has new location, hours

Published 11:15 am Friday, January 4, 2013

A LEARNING EXPERIENCE: DUIs might not be much fun for the people who get them, but Mary Jane Duke, director of the Bainbridge Driver Improvement School, tries to make the state-required, 20-hour risk reduction course a good learning experience for her students.

The Bainbridge Driver Improvement School, which people convicted of drug and alcohol-related traffic offenses must attend, recently changed its location.

The Driver Improvement School offers a 20-hour risk reduction course that satisfies State of Georgia educational requirements for people who are sentenced for certain traffic offenses, mostly commonly driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. People who need to take the course — which is part of the process of reinstating a driver’s license after a DUI conviction — are generally notified in court or sent a letter from the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

The school, which used to be at the old Bainbridge Public Safety headquarters on Shotwell Street, is now located at 401. E. Broughton Street. Its new office hours are Monday and Tuesday, from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Its phone number remains (229) 248-2024. The office is manned by the school’s longtime director, Mary Jane Duke, and her assistant, Brooke Harrell.

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During the school’s office hours, people who are interested in taking the 20-hour course can stop by to learn more about it, register for one of the monthly courses or take pre-course assessments.

“The assessments ask students questions about life circumstances,” Duke said. “They help the students better understand what may or may not be going on in their specific situation.”

The risk reduction course is 20 hours long and consists of four three-and-a-half hour sessions at night, and one six-hour session on a Saturday. The class curriculum and program are regulated by the state government.

However, the local Driver Improvement School is owned by the City of Bainbridge, while almost all other schools in the state are privately owned. Bainbridge’s school was created in the early 1980s by the late former Mayor Bill K. Reynolds at the suggestion of Duke, who is married to former Bainbridge Police Chief Jabo Duke.

Mary Jane Duke has been the director of the school all these years and said it is personally rewarding for her.

“I don’t like to see people get in trouble,” she said. “The risk-reduction course is a good educational program for anyone, and I feel like it’s a good intervention for individuals who may be going through a tough time in their lives.”