24/7 Sobriety Project

Gavel, alcoholic drink, and car keys

24/7 Sobriety Program

Photo by Jiri Hera/Fotolia

"South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Program reduced both repeat DUI and domestic violence arrests at the county level."

Beau Kilmer, Codirector, RAND Drug Policy Research Center

Alcohol consumption can impose enormous health and safety costs on individuals and society. Problem drinkers account for a disproportionate share of these costs. Although millions of problem drinkers pass through the criminal justice system each year, reducing their alcohol consumption has proven difficult.

South Dakota's innovative 24/7 Sobriety Program requires those arrested for or convicted of alcohol-involved offenses to take twice-a-day breathalyzer tests or wear a continuous alcohol monitoring bracelet. Those who fail or skip their tests are immediately subject to swift, certain but modest sanctions—typically a day or two in jail. After a five-county pilot project, “24/7” quickly grew to cover additional jurisdictions and offenses (e.g., assault).

Although 24/7 has won national awards, received tremendous attention in the domestic and international press, and is now being implemented in other states, evidence of its effectiveness has been largely anecdotal and descriptive. RAND researchers recently published the first peer-reviewed evaluation of whether 24/7 improved public health in South Dakota.