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Recently, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which covers highway and surface transit spending through fiscal year 2020. For the first time, the act includes $18 million in grant money to encourage states to adopt 24/7 Sobriety Programs to reduce drunk driving.

Swift and Certain Consequences

First launched in South Dakota in 2005, 24/7 Sobriety Programs require DUI offenders, and sometimes other individuals who commit alcohol-involved crimes, to submit to twice-daily breath testing or transdermal alcohol monitoring. Individuals who skip tests, tamper with their monitoring, or text positive for alcohol consumption face “swift and certain” punishment—usually a short jail stay of a day or two.

A Growing Trend

The combination of frequent testing and rapid, modest sanctions is achieving results with alcohol-involved offenders. According to research by the RAND Corporation, South Dakota’s program has resulted in tangible drops in both repeat DUIs and domestic violence arrests at the county level. The program has inspired a number of other states to take up the model, including North Dakota and Montana, and still more are starting or considering pilot programs.

Funding for a Variety of Countermeasures

The inclusion of federal funding for 24/7 Sobriety Programs is just one more validation of this innovative approach to addressing drunk driving. The FAST Act also authorizes funding for high-visibility enforcement campaigns, ignition interlock programs, improved blood-alcohol testing and reporting, and training on alcohol and drug screening and assessment. The FAST Act is the first long-term transportation bill to pass in more than a decade.

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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