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24/7 Sobriety program targets repeat drunk drivers

Drunk driving continues to be a major cause of death and injury in Texas and throughout the United States. In recent years progress has been made in reducing drunk driving deaths. But that progress has slowed recently. As a result, some law enforcement officials are considering innovative ideas to target the hard core of repeat drunk driving offenders.

One such program that has shown promise is called 24/7 Sobriety. Under the 24/7 program, once they have served their initial sentence drunk drivers can drive anytime they want, without having to blow into an ignition interlock, as long as they stay sober 24/7. To monitor their compliance, law enforcement authorities give them a breath test twice a day. The offenders must show up at a police station and take the test. If they fail, they go to jail for one or two days.

The program is based on the psychological principle that people are not deterred by a slight risk of eventual punishment, even if the punishment is severe. People are deterred, however, by punishment that is certain and swift, even if relatively mild.

The program has led to positive outcomes in jurisdictions where it has been tried. In South Dakota, 24/7 Sobriety is credited with a 12 percent drop in repeat drunk driving arrests in counties where the program has been used. In Montana, the program has reduced repeat DWI arrests among program participants by as much as 45 to 70 percent in comparison to offenders who did not participate.

Any program shown to be effective in reducing drunk driving deserves a serious look by local authorities. But drunk driving is not going to disappear completely anytime soon. Thus, anyone who has suffered serious injuries in a drunk driving accident should be aware of their right to seek justice in a civil lawsuit.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Drunken Driving and 24/7 Sobriety," Aug. 28, 2015

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