A recent analysis of North Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program is providing more evidence that mandatory sobriety for DUI offenders, as verified by alcohol monitoring technology, has a positive impact on preventing drunk driving.
A Statewide Solution for a Statewide Problem
North Dakota has one of the highest rates of alcohol misuse and binge drinking in the U.S., with alcohol playing a role in as much as 58% of fatal vehicle crashes in the state. To address alcohol-related crime, North Dakota launched a pilot 24/7 Sobriety Program in 2008 and took it statewide in 2010. In 2013, state lawmakers expanded the program to include both pretrial and post-conviction offenders and created mandatory sentences for those accused or convicted of two or more alcohol-involved crimes.
New Insights on Participant Behavior
The North Dakota Attorney General has long touted the program’s success, noting that 98% of participants complete the program with no violations and no drinking events. But researchers with the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute have provided additional insights into the program’s impact on participant behavior. Key findings include:
- The program’s mandatory 12-month enrollment period for repeat offenders—put in place in 2013—is more successful at deterring DUI recidivism than previous sentencing periods that were determined by local judges.
- The program was effective in deterring crashes, including among the most high-risk offenders.
- Participants were most likely to re-offend within the first 90 days of entering the program, leading researchers to conclude that it is essential to closely monitor clients for alcohol consumption during that period.
- Though female participants on average had more DUIs before enrolling, as a group women had fewer DUI violations during the program compared to their male counterparts.
- Individuals with a greater number of drunk driving offenses were more likely to reoffend during their time in the program. This suggests that early intervention with DUI offenders may be an important deterrent.
In short, the researchers concluded that North Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program has increased traffic safety and effectively reduces drunk driving. Read the entire study here.