South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long says the 24/7 program he started in 2004 has resulted in more than 800,000 Breathalyzer tests.
The program, which monitors people convicted of drunk driving by checking their breath daily, has had participation from 5,975 people from January 2005 to December 2007.
Around 851,000 tests were conducted, with 844,722 successes and 5,803 failures or no-shows.
The program began in 2004 with four counties. Participating people convicted of drunk driving have to show up at their sheriff’s offices twice a day and pass a breathalyzer test or go to jail.
“The reality of it is one-third of all felony convictions in South Dakota are felony drunk driving,” Long said.
More than 12 percent of South Dakota prison inmates are serving time for drunk driving. South Dakota had 21,724 DUI felony convictions from 1999-2006.
The largest group of offenders are people under 30 with three or more offenses.
Fifty-five of South Dakota’s 66 counties now take part in the 24/7 program, according to a presentation provided by Long.
Long said his goal is to target repeat offenders who have had a prior DUI conviction within the last 10 years. If the program works for people, their spouses, children and the public are safer, the defendant spends less time in jail, treatment prospects improve, employers are happy, and there’s almost no cost to taxpayers, he said.
HB1065 in the 2008 Legislature would let the state Department of Corrections participate in the 24/7 sobriety program for testing of parolees and the Unified Judicial System for testing of people placed under its supervision.
The legislation also would allow drug patch testing and urinalysis testing in the 24/7 program, which became statewide last year.
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