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South Dakota DUI Program Adopted by Other States

Imitation is said to be the highest form of compliment, and the way we handle DUI’s has been successful enough that the program is being adopted in other states. Called the “24/7” program, it shifts the focus from punishment to treatment. The idea, according to the program’s website, is “working with chronic DWI defenders into changing their behavior and prevention of additional DWI arrests.”

The 24/7 part comes from a commitment to keeping South Dakota’s repeat offenders sober for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is accomplished in two ways. The first is offering to hold off jail if those accused of DWI will agree to monitoring. The second is by monitoring on an almost continuous basis. The pilot program started in our state back in 2005 and is still going strong.

Similar programs have been adopted by Montana, North Dakota and legislation is being drawn up in Wyoming.

The program is considered a cost effective alternative to incarceration and has evolved to become a web-based reporting service with software coordinating much of the grunt work. Furthermore, participant bear the cost of the equipment. What’s even better though, is a reported 12% reduction in repeat DUI arrests. While this may not sound like much, it represents real lives changed for the better.

Some of the benefits cited:
• Reduced recidivism
• Improved public safety
• Provided an alternative to incarceration and reduced the number of people in local jails
• Allowed offenders to remain in the community
• Permitted offenders to maintain employment
• Cut jail and prison populations
• Saved millions in tax dollars every year in incarceration costs alone

From an addiction standpoint, all this is good news. With the focus on changing behavior instead of punishment, it may be possible to weed out those most likely to offend and, rather than locking them up, help them recover from their illness.

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