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November 15, 2012 09:57 PM

National Report Touts 24/7 Sobriety Program

Sioux Falls, SD

Participants of South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety program take a breathalyzer test morning and night as part of their court-ordered DUI sentence. The goal is to keep people like Josh Moeller, sober 24 hours a day.

“All I had to do was get one DUI to get on this,” Moeller said walking out the Minnehaha County Jail Thursday night.

He is not alone. A steady stream of people file in and out of a special jail entrance to take their sobriety tests each night.

South Dakota law enforcement kept statistics on the program since it started in 2005. They know it's a success. Other states have latched on too, modeling similar programs after the one began in South Dakota. But until now, no one else has weighed in.

That changed Thursday when the Rand Corporation released an independent report detailing the successes of the 24/7 sobriety program.

“Many of the people who have adopted the program have taken it on faith. And now we have something more than faith to show them. We have a reputable study conducted by professionals who have concluded what we're doing is good for South Dakota. And if other states adopt it, it'll be good for them,” former South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long, who founded the program said.

“I can't say I've had a drop of alcohol since I've been on the program. It's either do what they say or sit in Jail. It sounds better than jail,” Moeller said.

The Rand study looked at the years between 2005 and 2010. It found more than 99 percent of those taking the breathalyzer tests passed every day. The study also concluded the program dropped DUI arrests and reduced domestic violence arrests at the county level.

If you want to know if it cuts down repeat offenders, just ask Moeller.

“I'm definitely not going to do that again; definitely going to be looking for a ride now,” Moeller said.

The Rand Corporation plans to continue its research on a county by county level.

Attorney General Marty Jackley released a statement saying:

These results will hopefully aid in convincing Congress and other stakeholders that the 24/7 Sobriety Program significantly reduces repeat alcohol violations and may in turn open the door for future highway safety and other funding prospects.

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