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).
RAND researchers published the first peer-reviewed evaluation of whether 24/7 improved public health in South Dakota. Links to that article and RAND’s other studies of 24/7 Sobriety are listed below.
After South Dakota adopted an innovative sobriety program, the number of arrests for repeat drunk driving fell by 12 percent at the county level. Evidence suggests the program can work elsewhere. However, stakeholders will face many choices about how to implement it.
Researchers found that implementation of the 24/7 Sobriety Program was associated with a reduction in total deaths at the county level. The associations were most evident among causes of death associated with excessive alcohol use.
An innovative alcohol monitoring program called the South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Project reduced county-level repeat DUI arrests by 12 percent and domestic violence arrests by 9 percent.
In California, many efforts to reduce repeat drunken driving focus on the driving. What if the state targeted the “drunk” aspect instead?
RAND researchers examined the effect of Montana's 24/7 Sobriety Program and the results provide suggestive evidence that 24/7 participation reduced the probability of DUI re-arrest.
Swift-certain-fair (SCF) has both firm theoretical grounding and a growing body of empirical support as a means of reducing reoffending and the time participants spend behind bars.
This essay summarizes South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program and discusses the opportunities and challenges associated with implementing it in other places.
South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Project, in which individuals with alcohol-involved offenses submit to breathalyzer tests twice per day or wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet at all times, reduced repeat DUI arrests at the county level by 12 percent.
Because punishment is scarce, costly, and painful, optimal enforcement strategies minimize the amount of punishment required for deterrence. Increasing the probability of targeted punishment can reduce the punishment level necessary to tip the system, especially if preceded by warnings.
Although alcohol-related traffic deaths have decreased nationwide, California’s rate began to rise again in 2011. Future approaches to addressing DUIs need to better target the problem drinking that underlies impaired driving.
Criminal justice reform requires creating demand for bold ideas about simultaneously reducing incarceration and crime. Given the prominent role alcohol plays in crime — and the strong results from South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety program — suspending one's “license to drink” seems well worth considering.
U.S. Department of Justice Designates 24/7 Sobriety as a "Promising" Evidence-Based Program
The Department of Justice's CrimeSolutions.gov uses rigorous research to determine what works in criminal justice. Based on RAND research showing that 24/7 Sobriety reduced arrests for repeat drunk driving and domestic violence in South Dakota, the Department of Justice designated 24/7 Sobriety as a "promising" program. For more information visit the 24/7 Program Profile on crimesolutions.gov.
RAND Research on 24/7 Sobriety Earns Honorable Mention for Outstanding Research Award
RAND research on 24/7 Sobriety received an Honorable Mention for the 2015 Behavioural Exchange Award for Outstanding Research. The award is given "to the author or authors of an outstanding piece of research in the behavioural sciences in an applied setting. The award will be given to the submission demonstrating the finest combination of originality, rigour, demonstrated or potential practical application, and potential for lasting impact."
The 2015 Award was given to Anandi Mani, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir, and Jiaying Zhao for their work on poverty and cognition. Watch the 2015
awards ceremony at the International Behavioural Insights Conference.
RAND Researcher Earns NHTSA Public Service Award for 24/7 Sobriety Research
In April 2016, Beau Kilmer received a Public Service Award from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each year, NHTSA recognizes safety leaders from around the country for making outstanding contributions to improving highway safety. Kilmer was recognized by NHSTA Director Mark Rosekind for his "leadership and innovation in the areas of alcohol and drug-impaired driving program and policy research." For more information about the award and other awardees, see the NHTSA news release.