While much progress has been made over the past couple of decades, alcohol-involved crashes still accounts for a third of the nation’s highway fatalities each year. That’s why many states continue to look for new tools and programs to combat drunk driving, and why so many states this year are considering 24/7 Sobriety Program legislation.
The 24/7 Sobriety concept—which aims to change the behavior of repeat DUI offenders through frequent alcohol testing and swift and certain sanctions—has shown great promise in reducing the incidents of drunk driving. A peer-reviewed evaluation of South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program, conducted by the RAND Corporation and published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed the program resulted in a 12% reduction of repeat DUI offenses. And another study released just this week linked South Dakota’s program to a drop in adult mortality in that state, suggesting that the program may have wider public health benefits beyond addressing drunk driving and alcohol-related crime.
The recently-enacted federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act includes $18 million in grant money to encourage states to adopt 24/7 Sobriety Programs to reduce drunk driving, and the 2016 state legislative calendar has seen a flurry of activity surrounding the 24/7 Sobriety Program. Already this year, nine states have introduced legislation either establishing a 24/7 Sobriety Program or expanding the use of the program as a complement to ignition interlock programs. The states that have introduced legislation include:
- Florida: Amendment 927104 to SB1394
- Illinois: SB2191
- New Mexico: HB74
- Pennsylvania: HB1775
- Tennessee: HB2098 and SB2444
- Virginia: HB845
- Washington: SB6236
- Wisconsin: AB839 and SB667
- West Virginia: SB496
We applaud state policymakers for their commitment to reducing DUI-related injuries and fatalities.