24/7 Program works in Mobridge

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South Dakota is in the national eye with a program that has one main goal for each DUI defendant and that is sobriety 24 hours per day and seven days per week.

There are currently work with 67 participating agencies, including police departments, sheriff’s offices, and the Unified Judicial System.

Considered the most progressive and outstanding examples of this type of program, the South Dakota system is being used by other states for modeling the same types of programs with their law enforcement agencies.

The program began as a pilot project in January 2005 under the leadership of former Attorney General Larry Long, who currently serves as a Circuit Court Judge in South Dakota’s Second Judicial Circuit. In 2007, the South Dakota Legislature authorized the creation of a statewide 24/7 Sobriety Program.

Last week results of the Mountain Plains Evaluation’s Supplemental Findings Report on the 24/7 Sobriety Program were released to the public. It is a followup to the agency’s analysis of the 24/7 Program issued in March of 2011.

The report includes an additional year of participation data and demonstrates that the program, according to Attorney General Marty Jackley’s office is effectively continuing to reduce the likelihood that an individual convicted of DUI will reoffend. The twice-daily preliminary breath test result for DUI offenders examined in the report reveals that individuals are maintaining a very high level of sobriety while on the program.

According to the statistics examined by the agency, only 0.6 percent was recorded as a “failed” test or as a “no show.” In addition, over 53 percent of DUI participants did not fail a single breath test, and only 9.4 percent had four or more test marked as “failed” test or “no show” during a testing period that averaged approximately 120 days per participant.

There are currently 12 to 15 area residents participating, by order of the courts, in the program administered through the Mobridge Police Department. According to Walworth County Sheriff Duane Mohr, since 99 percent of the people ordered to participate in the program are from Mobridge, the program is administered through the Mobridge law enforcement center. He said there are those who are working in the area from other counties that occasionally stop at the office or the Walworth County Jail for their required tests.

He said the program has benefitted the county.

“I think it is a great program,” he said. “I asked Larry Long to implement the program in Walworth County and it works here. It not only affects the DUI arrests, but also domestic violence. If people are not drinking they are not fighting.”

At the law enforcement center in Mobridge, officers see first hand how the program is working.

“For the most part it does the job,” said Mobridge Police Chief Justin Jungwirth. “We have our repeat offenders, but it works for the majority of those in the program.”

Jungwirth said those who are required to participate in the program are there because of DUI and domestic violence arrests or through Department of Social Services arrests.

Because the tests are administered twice daily, those who participate in the program are facing jail if they fail the Breathalyzers.

“It is keeping people from drinking heavily on a regular basis, and they are going to fail the test if they do” said Jungwirth. “When they fail, they go back to jail.”

Those who are required to participate in the program, must also pay for it out of their own pockets. The costs is either $2 or $3 a day for the Breathalyzers depending on how long the person participates and $6 for the SCRAM bracelets (SCRAM is short for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring.) SCRAM bracelets attach to a person’s ankle and look for the presence of alcohol in sweat), which are preferred by rural residents, according to Jungwirth.

The Mountain Plains report, in addition to the recent release of the RAND study, confirms and supports the effectiveness of the 24/7 Sobriety Program, according to Jackley. It is keeping repeat offenders off the road.

Since 2005, 5.32 million preliminary breath tests have been administered to 23,678 participants with a pass rate of 99.3 percent. In 2006, alcohol-monitoring (SCRAM) bracelets were introduced to the program. Since then 4,815 participants have been monitored for 706,468 days of which 77 percent were compliant. Other testing methods were introduced in 2007 including: 68,412 urinalysis tests administered to 2,632 participants with a pass rate of 96.8 percent; and 1,447 drug patch tests administered to 125 participants with a pass rate of 89 percent. In June of 2012, the ignition interlock devices for vehicles were added to the program, but currently no statistical data available.

Jackley has continued to advance the program with the hiring of a full time 24/7 Sobriety Program Coordinator and the introduction of a very specific ignition interlock device. The 24/7 Sobriety Program is currently available in the vast majority of South Dakota counties.

The full results of the Mountain Plains Evaluation Report can be found at: http://apps.sd.gov/atg/dui247/AnalysisSupplementalSD24.pdf.

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