Montana's Drunk Drivers Face Twice-Daily Tests

By McCarton Ackerman 04/09/12

Repeat DUI offenders will pay out-of-pocket for mandatory breath tests and drug screenings, with flunkers facing jail.

Repeat offenders will pay for two breath tests a
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Having a DUI can be enough of an inconvenience, but repeat DUI offenders in Missoula County, Montana are about to become the latest in the state to be required to give up their lives to the court system. The "24/7 Sobriety Act," which was launched in South Dakota and has been replicated in a dozen counties in Montana since last October, forces repeat offenders to take twice-daily breath tests on site at local testing centers to prove they're sober. The tests come at the offenders' expense, with participants paying $3 per breath test, $10 per drug screen, or $10 a day for an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet or a visual breath test done from home. Skipping a test means the county will put out an arrest warrant, while flunking a test means you go directly to jail. “The intent of the 24/7 sobriety program is not only to keep repeat DUI offenders off our streets, and keeping our streets safer, but to enact a cultural change and a behavioral change in repeat DUI offenders,” says Justice Department spokesman John Doran. “That’s the real basis of success–changing behavior.” Missoula County Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech says that she will also occasionally bring first-time DUI offenders into the program “to see if somebody has an issue with alcohol that might translate to what’s known as an addiction.” But given Montana's geography, an ankle bracelet is also an option for offenders who live far from local testing centers.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.