DWI Laws in SD – Tough, not Adversarial

South Dakota has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country, particularly for multiple offenders. If you are convicted of a 2nd offense DWI, in addition to license loss and fines, you will be required to abstain from consuming any alcohol for a 3 month period.

The program is South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project, and according to news sources, it has helped keep the drunk driving recidivism rate at half of that of those in other states.

One of the most fascinating elements of South Dakota’s efforts is it’s insistence on maintaining an essential humanity in it’s practices. When participants are required to show up for mandatory breath testing twice a day, the process is unfailingly polite and respectful by design. The participants are treated like customers or patients, not criminals.

Drunk driving is a potentially dangerous practice and a clear hazard to public safety, but most of the time, it is a victimless crime.  And people arrested for drunk driving are not criminals. Alcoholism and additive behaviors are commonly the cause of chronic drunk drivers. This approach to prevention seems to recognize that, and it may be a significant factor as to why this program is succeeding where others that stress punishment have failed.

Other states like North Dakota and Montana are looking to copy these 24/7 sobriety project to combat drunk driving in those states. Let’s hope they keep the same level of common decency that South Dakota has worked to maintain.

About David Matson