Can something as simple as having to demonstrate sobriety twice a day really keep DUI offenders from drinking?
For 10 years South Dakota has operated a novel program called 24/7 Sobriety that has achieved significant success in keeping individuals from drinking. While most approaches to combatting DUI offenders focus on removing the individual from the car (license revocation, ignition interlock devices), the 24/7 approach removes the individual from alcohol. Here’s how it works.
Judges assign individuals who have primary issues of alcohol and/or drug abuse to the 24/7 program as a condition of bond, post-sentence probation, work permits, parole, corrections and other special conditions. Individuals are allowed to live at home, hold a job, go to school, and otherwise live their life in the community – but must report twice a day for breath alcohol testing. (The Alco-Sensor FST is widely used in the South Dakota 24/7 program for the alcohol test.) The program is funded by the participating individuals who pay $2 per test. As long as the individual demonstrates sobriety with a negative breath alcohol test they continue living in the community. However, a positive test immediately results in the individual being jailed and brought before the judge.
The success rate for the South Dakota program is greater than 99%. Experts believe the key to making the program work is the certain and immediate consequence for a positive test.
For a brief discussion on how this approach compares with traditional theories for treating alcoholism see the recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “A Simple Fix for Drunken Driving.” , and read the online comments.
For more information on 24/7 Sobriety Programs go to http://www.24x7sober.com, a comprehensive website with many resources and articles explaining the program.