DOJ: News Release

Bullock Joins County, City Officials to Launch 24/7 Sobriety Program

Lewis & Clark County to begin Pilot Program for anyone arrested for 2nd or subsequent DUI

HELENA – Attorney General Steve Bullock joined Helena and Lewis & Clark County officials on Thursday to announce a new program they hope will reduce both the number of drunk drivers on the road and the number of alcohol-related fatalities.

“Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When it comes to drunk driving in Montana, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing,” Bullock said. “But today, with the support of everyone here, we’ve agreed to try something new – the 24/7 Sobriety Program. This program has a lot of promise because it’s a low-cost program that holds people who repeatedly drive drunk accountable and imposes immediate consequences if they don’t stay sober.”

Under the 24/7 Sobriety Program, anyone who is arrested for a second or subsequent DUI is required to submit to a breath test twice a day, every day. If an offender fails a breath test or does not show up for a test, the offender’s bond is immediately revoked and he or she is taken directly to jail and waits to see a judge.

The program began in South Dakota as a pilot in 2005. Since then, it has gone statewide and has administered over 2.9 million tests to nearly 12,000 offenders. Participants show up and blow a clean test 99.6 percent of the time.

“After Trooper Mike Haynes died last March following a crash with a drunk driver who was in the wrong lane, I asked his wife Tawny how we could honor Mike,” Col. Tooley said today. “She told me about his frustrations with repeat offenders, and asked that we find a way to stop repeat DUI offenses so that other families wouldn’t have to go through what she and her two young children were going through. 24/7 is something we can do right now to start making a real difference.”

Montana’s 24/7 pilot project was initiated by Attorney General Steve Bullock and the Montana Highway Patrol in cooperation with Lewis & Clark County and the City of Helena. The Lewis & Clark program will be underway by May, with the support of the following criminal justice agencies:

  • County Attorney Leo Gallagher, Lewis & Clark County Attorney’s Office
  • Sheriff Leo Dutton, Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office
  • City Attorney David Nielsen, Helena
  • Police Chief Troy McGee, Helena Police Department
  • Col. Mike Tooley, Montana Highway Patrol

Representatives of the group, including Sheriff Dutton, County Attorney Gallagher and Col. Tooley, traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota on Monday to meet with their counterparts and see firsthand how law enforcement there manages the program.

“The aggressive identification and arrest of people who drive drunk is one of my highest priorities,” Sheriff Dutton said. “From what we saw in Rapid City, this program can keep repeat offenders out of jail and keep them sober, which means our roads will be safer and our jail costs down. I’m proud that Lewis & Clark is the first county to partner with the Attorney General and the Highway Patrol in this effort.”

South Dakota’s program has been credited with dramatically reducing alcohol-related fatalities and cutting jail and prison populations. For specific data on the program’s results, see the attached fact sheet.

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