South Dakota Program

The South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program is being used as a condition of bond, sentencing, probation, parole, social services special condition, driver license reinstatement, and a variety of other court conditions.

The program has now been in effect since February of 2005 and data from 2005 to 2011 has been made available for statistical analysis. In 2010, an early study was published by Mountain Plains Evaluation LLC, “South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program Evaluation Supplemental Findings Report“. Another study, completed by the “Efficacy of Frequent Monitoring With Swift, Certain, and Modest Sanctions for Violations: Insights From South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project” was completed and highlights the program’s success.

The program’s results are impressive, particularly given the fact that almost half of the participants have been convicted three or more times for DUI offenses (as of July of 2017):

  • 63 out of 67 counties in South Dakota are participating in the 24/7 program
  • 46,128 offenders participated in twice-daily alcohol breath testing. 9.62 million breath tests have been administered with a pass rate (show up on time and blow clean tests) of 99.06%.
  • 10,398 offenders wore a transdermal alcohol testing device for the program, monitored for a total of 1.78 million days. 74% of offenders were not determined to have produced a confirmed positive or confirmed tamper. Non-compliance was made up of 1,669 confirmed drinking events and 6,062 confirmed tampers.
  • 1,481 offenders wore 13,010 drug patches, with a passing rate of 76.7% of the analyses.
  • 9,387 offenders took 251,599 UA tests, passing 94.89% of the time.
  • 518 participants have been tested through an ignition interlock device with 916,862 test administered and with a passing rate of 99.47%.

It is important to note that:

  • the data that has been evaluated to date by Mt. Plains Evaluation LLC and Rand Corporation is from data generated from the South Dakota 24/7 program between 2005 and 2011.  This data was derived from a program that primarily (85% of the time) used in person twice a day testing. The law, at that time, required that transdermal testing only be used in hardship cases (15% of the time).
  • that self-administered remote breath testing in the form of Ignition Interlock devices or other self administered alcohol tests have not been evaluated in terms of their effectiveness in a 24/7 program.
  • that an early Mt Plains Evaluation “Analysis of 24/7 Sobriety Program SCRAM Participant DUI Offense Recidivism” study on the South Dakota data suggests that transdermal testing has an impact on recidivism while in use, but little or no positive  impact on long term behavior.  This data is echoed in other transdermal studies performed by NHTSA.
  • work needs to be done to see the impact that a 24/7 drug testing regimen has on the participant in both the short and long term. Research is needed to vet the 24/7 sobriety program’s effectiveness under the use of these different testing methods and rates.

At the time the program was introduced (2005), South Dakota had one of the highest DUI rates in the U.S.A and nearly three-quarters of the people involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of 0.15 or higher. From 2006 to 2007, alcohol-related traffic deaths in South Dakota declined by 33 percent, the largest decrease in the nation. Over the six years from 2003 to 2008, alcohol-related fatalities in South Dakota decreased significantly.

A global effort contributed to South Dakota’s success in reducing alcohol related fatal crashes. These efforts included: law enforcement sobriety checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols, media campaigns and social programs, revocation of implied consent, aggressive DUI prosecutions and training. The 24×7 sobriety program has played a significant role in changing drinking attitudes in South Dakota. It became apparent that by addressing the actual cause of the problem (alcohol and/or drug abuse) significant and sustainable changes in behavior could be achieved.

Transcript of above video “A Day at a South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Testing Facility”:

Open for business – 5:30 a.m.

A day at the 24/7 sobriety testing facility in Rapid City, SD — operated by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office – begins very early. A staff of three testers is in place and prepared to start testing by 5:30 a.m. Equipment and supplies are ready and the program’s data management software is launched and running.

Testing process is efficient and very quick

Doors open and participants begin to arrive. As each person approaches the counter and states their name, the testing technician quickly finds and retrieves their record in the online database. The record shows the details of the individual’s testing regimen and includes a photo so the technician can verify identity. Most participants are taking PBTs (preliminary breath tests). They blow into the testing device and an instantaneous pass/fail result is obtained and recorded. For most, it takes less than a minute – they are tested, they pay a nominal fee and are on their way. If they’ve paid monthly in advance, it’s even quicker. Individuals who are being monitored for drug-related offenses check in for drug testing (a urine analysis test). The Rapid City sites regularly tests over 600 participants in the three hour period.

Communications and consequences are handled swiftly

If a problem arises, such as a dispute or a no-show for testing, a supervisor steps in. Phone conversations may ensue with attorneys, probation officers, police officers or judges, depending upon the situation. The online data management system provides the information needed on every participant – including contact information for all associated parties or agencies. For a failed drug or alcohol test, the individual is immediately escorted to the Pennington County Jail. The incarceration period for most is 24 hours.

Morning and evening testing periods

Testing takes place for three hours in the morning (5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m) and three hours in the evening (6 pm to 9 pm). Every participant must appear at both testing sessions every day for their required period.

After the morning session concludes, the staff provides orientation for any new participants, explaining the rules and costs of the program and their individual testing regime.

While many of the testing locations in South Dakota have only a few participants, two testing locations (one in Pennington County and one in Minihaha County) perform the majority of the almost 1 million breath tests per year. These sites demonstrate the scalability of the program. At a given point in time the Pennington County site has tested over 700 participants twice a day in a single facility where they are only operating three testing stations.