Successful Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program Aims to Involve More Counties Around State
The 24/7 Sobriety Program in Montana has proven to be successful when preventing drinking and driving. The Montana Attorney General's Office is looking to expand that success rate to more counties across the state.
Drinking and driving has been, and still continues to be, a growing problem in Montana. However, as of a few years ago, the 24/7 Sobriety Program was adopted by many counties in Montana. The program was proposed by the Montana Attorney General's Office.
John Barnes with the Montana Attorney General’s Office said the ultimate goal of the program is to deter those who have been charged with drunken driving from drinking.
"It's a program where—under court order—someone who has been convicted of a DUI goes into an office, a police station, or whatever, twice a day, seven days a week, and they do a breathalyzer," Barnes said. "If they have been found to be drinking, they're held accountable for that. Last year, less than one half of 1 percent of the people giving breathalyzers failed, so it has a great success rate."
Barnes added that this program is only running in 27 out of 56 Montana counties. However, those 27 counties are a vast majority of Montana’s population.
"Some of the challenges that you'll see in some of the more rural counties that haven't picked this up, when you have a population that is very much dispersed, it's difficult to set up something where they can come in twice a day," Barnes said. "If you live 150 miles away from the police station, I don't know that I would want to make that drive twice a day. Then you have some counties where they don't have the resources. They don't have the money to get something like this going."
Barnes said the counties with the highest population numbers are a logical place to start initiating the program.
Other states like South Dakota have also seen tremendous results in not only lowering DUIs, but lowering the number of other crimes, such as spousal abuse and domestic destruction.
Since 2011, a total of just over 3,000 people have participated in the program. In 2013 alone, 1,400 participated.
John Barnes with the Montana Attorney General's Office