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24/7 Programs

In 2005, South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long launched that state’s 24/7 Program, the first state-level program in the country to mandate and monitor repeat drunk driving offenders. The project has one main goal for each DUI defendant – sobriety 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Today, the program is in place in several other states and was included in the 2012 Federal Highway Bill as a way for states to utilize highway safety funding.

The 24/7 Sobriety Program provides unprecedented levels of supervision for first-time DUI offenders with a BAC of at least 0.17 and repeat DUI offenders. The program stresses separating the offender from alcohol as a method of rehabilitating drunk drivers and changing behavior. This strategy is currently being used by the courts as a condition of bond, sentencing, and/or probation.

A number of tools are utilized by the program to ensure participant compliance including:

  • twice daily breath tests;
  • transdermal alcohol monitoring;
  • drug patches; and,
  • urinalysis

Participants who fail to show up for a scheduled test or who test positive for alcohol use may have their probation, parole, or bond instantly revoked and be immediately jailed. The approach is based on the idea that the certainty and rapidity, rather than the severity, of the punishment is more effective in deterring drinking.

The use of community supervision over lengthy incarceration and an offender-pay scheme also makes the program cost-effective. Program evaluation findings have generally found positive outcomes associated with 24/7 participation:

  • DUI recidivism is substantially lower among 24/7 Sobriety participants at one, two, and three years following program completion and repeat offenses have dropped 12% at the county level.
  • Compared to DUI offenders not in the project, participants with two DUI arrests who were in the program for 30 consecutive days had a 74% reduction in recidivism when studied three years after their second DUI arrests. Those with three DUI arrests had a 44% reduction in recidivism, and those with four DUI arrests had a 31% reduction in recidivism.
  • Over the course of an average 120 days in the program, 55% of participants never fail an alcohol test, 16.7% fail once, 12.5% fail twice, and 16.9% fail three or more times.

Responsibility.org supports the use of technology and cost-effective supervision methods, such as 24/7 Sobriety Programs, to provide swift identification, certain punishment, and effective treatment for repeat drunk driving offenders. Read our complete policy position here.

Additional resources:

South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program (Office of the Attorney General)

Can the 24/7 Sobriety Project Reduce Problem Drinking and Improve Public Health? (RAND)