More than one third of DUI convictions in the state are repeat offenders. In order to curb that number, the state enacted the 24/7 sobriety program a few years ago.
Currently there are around 1,000 people in North Dakota who are court mandated to stay sober at all times, whether that be for 90 days or a whole year. I spoke to a woman who asked to remain anonymous about her journey on the program.
“I was a daily drinker, wasn’t just social where most people can go out this and that.”
It wasn’t until her 2nd DUI that she was mandated by law to be a part of 24/7 sobriety.
“That was it and then I became on this program, and I knew I needed a change in my life. Regardless of what it took, I was going to succeed at this.”
The idea came from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem who helped enact the program after the 2013 legislative session. He realized that taking driving privileges away just wasn’t enough.
“What we needed to tell people is if you continue to drink and drive, we’re going to stop you from drinking because we have the technology and the ability to make sure that happens,” said Stenehjem.
And since then, DUI convictions in North Dakota have been cut in half. To be a part of this program, you have to get your second DUI offense OR a high alcohol volume on the first. They either have to come in twice a day to take a breathalyzer test, OR wear an anklet that monitors them 24/7.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said, “The individuals that want to help themselves get help the most. Because you’ve got to want to improve yourself. And the people that do that, we work very hard with them.”
If failed, the participant is immediately arrested and seen before a judge.
But that doesn’t happen often. With over 1 million brethalyzers in the state given since it started, there’s an over 95% success rate. And some claim it really changes lives.
“I’m very thankful for this program, I really am. I love what is has done for me. And the friendships that I have made along this journey so far of being sober.”
Another benefit to this program is it doesn’t cost the tax payers a thing. Those enrolled in the program pay for all of the services themselves and some of that money goes directly back to the sheriff’s departments.