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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Offenders Cheat 24/7 Program, But Deterrent Still Provided

Is South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Program to fight drunk driving getting the job done? KELO examines that question.

Drunk driving is an offense which can not only get the perpetrator hurt or killed, it can hurt or kill the innocent.

Alcohol is also a leading contributor to many other offenses including general assaults and domestic violence.

South Dakota has taken an aggressive approach to preventing repeat offenses with the 24/7 program which requires perpetrators of alcohol related offenses to come down to the police station twice a day to take a breathalyzer test.

But as one anonymous participate points out in the KELO article, the system isn't foolproof:

"I could get off work, I could go home, have a couple regular beers, wait a couple hours, go in there at 6 o'clock, and blow and I would be fine," George said. "Once I got done there, I could go home and have another three, four, five beers and the next morning I would be fine also."

George looked online to figure out just how much alcohol a person his size can dissipate over a period of time.

I've been out of law enforcement too long to remember clearly, but I seem to recall that lower concentrations of alcohol remain in the blood stream longer than they can be accurately detected by a breathalyzer. If so, a BAT might be in order for those who can't manage compliance by the breathalyzer.

Another possibility to strengthen enforcement might be to require testing three times a day (ever 8 hours), which would further reduce the amount of alcohol that could be consumed and still pass a breathalyzer test.

Yes, it would be more expensive, and yes, it would be more of a hassle. But if some offenders really can't stay off the booze, and if we're serious about reducing the alcohol problem our society has, it might be worth it.

Magistrate Judge John Hinrichs points out that the program is still having a positive effect:
Henrichs says if people have to calculate how much they can drink and still beat the system, then the 24/7 program is effective in cutting down on reckless drinking.

Both Henrichs and George agree it would be too difficult to force people on the program to take the breath test more than the current twice a day.

He has a good point. While it may not be keeping offenders off the substance that is causing them--and society--so many problems, it is almost certainly reducing the effects of the problem.

There's only so much alcohol you can take in and still be able to sober up in time for your next test. Perhaps this will mitigate if not eliminate repeat drunk driving offenses.


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