Driving Programme

Social investment in action

Over 20,000 offenders and ex-prisoners have been given a second chance with our Driving Programme aimed at helping young people off the pathway to prison and a life of crime and into work.

NZ Howard League for Penal Reform Operations Chief Executive Jenny Michie says the programme, is cost effective and often leads to jobs for the participants.

“65% of Māori offenders have a driving offence as part of their initial jail sentence and a significant number of prison sentences are due to driving offences, including driving without a licence. Over 80% of all jobs require a driver licence.

“There are no down-sides to this programme. We create safer, legal drivers, we help keep them out of jail and we make them employable; getting them off benefits.

“To date, we have saved New Zealand over $40 million by helping the most expensive beneficiaries become taxpayers; it’s economic alchemy and social investment in action.*

“For many of our people, this is the first test they’ve ever passed in their lives. In terms of their self-confidence this can be transformational.”

A driver licence also gives people identification which is critical for getting a bank account, for signing up for a rental property, and for any other situation where ID is needed. We’re also creating safer drivers.

We currently run driving programmes from Community Corrections Centres in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei, Auckland, Waikato, Tauranga, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Taranaki, Whanganui, Hawera, Palmerston North, Masterton, Porirua, Lower Hutt and Christchurch.

The majority of our programmes are funded by the Corrections and four of the urban programmes by the New Zealand Transport Authority Waka Kotahi.

The Driving Programme is also being rolled out in prisons across New Zealand.

*2020 Impact Lab report which states that for every dollar the government spends on the NZ Howard League Driving Programme, $3.26 is returned to the country.


Licences Achieved since 2014.

Dr Shane Reti with NZHL Instructor Wayne Lajeunesse Celebrating 1000 licences in Whangarei in 2023

Want to share your experience with the Howard League Driving Programme with us? We'd like to hear!

Prepare prisoners to pass their learner license.

Organise driving lessons and practical tests for restricted and full licenses.

Provide a car to sit practical tests in.

Help pay for costs associated with getting a license.

Provide literacy help so that they can get to a level to pass their license.

Organise the ID needed including original birth certificate.

Share some great resources including: Drive websites, apps, quizzes and a take home work book which has 10 practice tests.

Barriers to getting a licence

First and foremost is cost. Many people simply cannot afford the $96.10 for Learners, $167.50 for Restricted and $98.90 for the Full test. Since 0ctober 2023 resits are free.

Other barriers are:

  • Poor literacy
  • No access to the internet to practice tests
  • No birth certificate, no knowledge of how to get one or the money to pay for one
  • Most people need driving lessons which they cant afford
  • No access to a legal vehicle to practice and sit their test in.

Driving Programme Research & Statistics

Research by Utting Research

Help the NZ Howard League reach its goals in reducing prisoners reoffending, reducing the prison population and helping with positive reintegration into communities, without endangering the safety of those communities.

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