Wyoming lawmakers consider South Dakota DUI program - KOTA Territory News

Wyoming lawmakers consider South Dakota DUI program

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Wyoming lawmakers may take a page out of South Dakota's book for dealing with drunk drivers.

"Alcohol is 81 percent of our business," said Sheridan Police Chief Richard Adriaens.

Wyoming lawmakers like State Senator Bruce Burns want to bring that number down.

So the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee, which Burns serves on, met this week to discuss adopting South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Program.

"It's an alternative to a jail sentence.  It also saves money by keeping people out of jail and doesn't ruin their lives as much," said Burns (R-Sheridan).

The program would require offenders to submit to two daily breathalyzer tests and they would get to stay out of jail.

"There would be a monitoring station and in some cases it might be the police station," said Burns.

Not only would Wyoming save money by housing fewer people behind bars, the participants would also pick up the tab for the tests.

"The tests themselves are relatively cheap.  I think just a couple of bucks," said Burns.

But could law enforcement handle administering all these tests?

Sheridan Police Department leaders seem willing.

"In Sheridan we do 200 to 300 DUI's a year.  For first, second, and repeat offenders, it's a difficult situation for jails.  You've got other crime that needs that space sometimes," said Adriaens.

But the Sheridan County Sheriff worries about public safety with so many prior offenders back on the road so soon.

"We have 19 here on three or more DUI's.  I'm all for saving money, but at what cost?  I don't want to see the community suffer, the safety of the community suffer," said Sheriff Dave Hofmeier.

Either way, South Dakota's program is gaining support in Wyoming.

"My understanding is they have about an 85 percent success rate and they've got a very low recidivism rate.  You don't have as many repeat offenders," said Burns.

Burns expects the committee to approve drawing up a bill later this year to consider during next year's legislative session.

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