Rep. Dusty Johnson works to fund national sobriety programs

RAPID CITY, SD (KOTA) – The 24/7 sobriety program located on New York Street, provides twice-daily drug and alcohol testing services to those who have been convicted of criminal offenses. Since 2005, South Dakota Sheriff’s Offices have successfully administered more than 12 million breath tests and more than 600,000 drug tests.

Lucas Oyler, director of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, says there are several ways to test for drugs and alcohol.

Oyler says, “We test for alcohol and we test for drugs. We can test alcohol with a scram monitor, we can test alcohol with what’s called a remote breath, which does facial recognition, and it has a bit of GPS capability. Scram, who is the ankle monitor and remote breathing, and the PBTs… who do our blood alcohol tests. Then for the urinalysis, we either do a urinalysis or we have what’s called a drug patch and they wear it for up to two weeks. Usually it takes up to 7-10 days and then arrives and the lab analyzes it and gives us our results.

If someone doesn’t comply with the court’s decision and doesn’t show up…or…fails a test…they are sent to jail immediately after the hearing.

South Dakota’s success with this program prompted the representative Dusty Johnson to propose Supporting Opportunities to Build Everyday Responsibility bill, better known as the SOBER law. The bill will establish a grant within the Department of Justice’s Justice Program Office, allocating $50 million each year…for five years. If the SOBER Act is enacted, it will encourage other states to start sobriety programs.

Oyler says, “It would encourage other states to try it, pilot it, and see how it works for them. Obviously every jurisdiction is different, but I think they will have similar success to what we have had. Accountability is important, but building rapport when you see someone every day, even if you only spend less than a minute with them…you get to know them. You encourage them, you want them to succeed.

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