Sobriety program might cut DUI incidents

TOPEAK (KSNT) – City officials had an informational briefing hosted by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt about the pros and cons of a program designed to change the behavior of chronic DUI offenders in the state. The original program is called 24/7 Sobriety.

“We focus very heavily on people driving again,” says Derek Schmidt. “This one concentrates on people drinking again.”

South Dakota was the first state to establish the program, with a five-county pilot project that has since expanded. South Dakota Judge Larry Long is the program’s founder.

“We started this with an appropriation of $700,000 and the state hasn’t stuck another nickel in this program since 2005,” he says.

The program’s goal for Kansas would be for each DUI defendant to be sober 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Offenders must take breath tests twice a day at a designated facility or they face consequences. If the offender does not have means of transportation, they can wear monitoring bracelets and would only have to report to a facility twice a week; however, they are more expensive. Derek Schmidt says he thinks there are some concepts in here that fit nicely with Kansas law. But he’s not sure the entire program does.

“We are a very different state from South Dakota.”

The program is offender funded in South Dakota and doesn’t require expenses from the public. Kansas had over 2,400 DUI related incidents in 2014, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

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