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On July 17th, 2003 at 1 a.m. while working a vehicle accident, I was struck by a drunk driver. I lost everything I had. My wife left, as 1 year of watching me have seizures and not get better was too much for her. More

Drunk Driving News

Drunk Driving Fatalities Drop to Lowest Rate since 1950

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that U.S. fatalities due to drunk driving fell to a record low number in 2009, declining by 7.4% from 2008, with a 19% decrease since 2000. This represents the lowest number since 1950. More

Drug and Alcohol Courts: An Effective Alternative to Jail

Drug courts were developed in the 1980's in an effort to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and to reduce the criminal activity that typically accompanies these behaviors. More

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Hold Drunk Drivers Responsible

New Anti Drunk-Driving Program Reduces Deaths by Half

We have all heard of the standard methods that most states use to fight the war against drunk driving – the required use of alcohol interlock devices on vehicles of convicted drunk drivers, harsher legal and financial penalties against repeat offenders, and sobriety checkpoints are the most common. Yet, the number of alcohol-related deaths has remained relatively steady across the nation for the past decade, despite these efforts. Except in South Dakota, where a revolutionary new sobriety program is delivering extraordinary results.

Four years ago, South Dakota did something unique – it tried something new. At that time, DUI felonies represented 34.9% of all felony convictions in the state. 15% of the state’s prison population was incarcerated as a result of DUI felonies. 43% of all traffic deaths included alcohol; alcohol was a factor in 34% of South Dakota crash costs. Comparatively, South Dakota ranked among the highest of all states on alcohol misuse. (Go to to learn more.)

The state developed a new program, called the 24/7 Sobriety Project, with the goal of achieving absolute sobriety for anyone arrested for DUI with a prior conviction in the past 10 years. Since 48% of participants have three or more DUI offenses, the ambitious program goals, if achieved, would represent a dramatic improvement to public safety.

The requirements of the program are simple:

  •  People convicted of repeated drunk-driving offenses are forced to stop drinking completely for three months by submitting to police-observed Breathalyzer tests twice a day.
  •  If they fail the tests, refuse to take the tests, or do not attend, they receive an immediate night in jail.
  •  There is virtually no cost to the tax payer since the testing is paid for by the program participants.

The results have been staggering – drunk-driving fatalities have been cut in half, reduced from twice the national average of 70 down to just 34. Program graduates are half as likely as other DUI offenders to be arrested again. Program participants maintain a 99.8% attendance rate for testing, and an 86.7% pass rate. The program had delivered other benefits including increased safety for families of chronic heavy drinkers, reduced drain on public resources, and improved long-term treatment results.

Given the extraordinary performance of this ground-breaking program, South Dakota is currently testing the program on other types of offenders including domestic batterers who commit crimes while intoxicated. Other states including North Dakota and Montana have begun similar programs in hopes of achieving similar results. Given the immediate benefit to chronic offenders and to the public, the reduced strain on public resources, and the lack of cost for program operations, this win-win program, unique in the public safety arena, should be adopted nationwide.

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