A New Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving and Domestic Violence


liquor and keys

by Beau Kilmer

November 15, 2012

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and alcohol-related domestic violence are two very costly consequences of problem drinking in communities across the nation. While millions of problem drinkers pass through the criminal justice system each year, we do not do a good job of getting them to reduce their alcohol consumption. Even when a judge or probation officer orders alcohol abstinence, many believe it is just too hard to deter use given how quickly alcohol passes through the body.

For nearly two years, RAND has studied South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Project, an innovative approach to this problem that can require individuals arrested for or convicted of an alcohol-involved offense to undergo twice-a-day breathalyzer tests—typically once in the morning and once in the evening—or wear continuous alcohol monitoring bracelets. Individuals who fail or skip their tests are immediately subject to a short jail term, typically a day or two.

In an article in the American Journal of Public Health, Beau Kilmer and a team of RAND researchers provide the first peer-reviewed evaluation of the program, presenting evidence that 24/7 reduced repeat DUI and domestic violence arrests at the county level.

"The program works because people believe there will be consequences … Up until now there was no peer-reviewed research showing that the program worked, and the RAND study does show that it is successful."

Beau Kilmer, senior policy researcher and codirector of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center