Washington’s “24/7 Sobriety Program”: Alcohol and Drug Monitoring as an Alternative to Incarceration

Read about how Washington’s “24/7 Sobriety Program” aims to use alcohol and drug testing instead of locking up DUI offenders.

In 2013, Washington created the “24/7 Sobriety Program.” The 24/7 program—implemented in some areas in 2014—was set up for DUI offenders as an alternative to incarceration. The idea is that you don't need to keep DUI offenders behind bars if you can monitor them for alcohol and drug use. Through the 24/7 program, Washington aims to:

  • reduce costs to the state
  • reduce jail and prison populations
  • enhance public safety, and
  • curb DUI recidivism.

According to the state, in the places where 24/7 has been used, the program has gotten good results.

How 24/7 Works

Alcohol and drug testing is the main feature of the 24/7 program. When ordering an offender to participate in 24/7, courts have several testing options that include:

  • Twice daily on-site portable breath testing (PBT) for alcohol. For on-site PBT testing, participants go to a designated site (like a police station) twice daily to take PBT breath test. The two testing times are typically about 12 hours apart. For instance, a participant might be required to test between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. and then again between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.
  • Remote electronic alcohol monitoring or SCRAM (secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring). SCRAM monitoring requires the participant to wear an electronic alcohol-detecting bracelet at all times. If the participant consumes alcohol, the bracelet will detect and report it.
  • Urine, saliva, or drug-patch testing. To ensure 24/7 participants remain drug free, courts also have the option of ordering urine, saliva, and drug-patch testing. Courts can order such testing at scheduled or random intervals.

Whatever form of testing the court orders, the participant will be responsible for paying the costs. Everyone pays an enrollment fee of $30, and costs of testing vary depending on the type of test.

Testing Dirty or Breaking the Rules

Participants in the 24/7 program who test positive for drugs or alcohol, don’t pay program costs or fees, or break other rules face arrest and penalties. The consequences for violations are:

  • First violation: written warning
  • Second violation: one day in jail
  • Third violation: three days in jail
  • Fourth violation: five days in jail
  • Fifth or subsequent violation: seven days in jail

Courts also have the option of kicking a participant out of the program for noncompliance. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 36.28A.390 (2016).)

Which Offenders Participate in 24/7

The law allows judges to order the 24/7 program for anyone who is arrested for or convicted of driving or being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For those who’ve been arrested for a DUI offense, but not yet convicted, a judge can order 24/7 participation as a condition for pretrial release from jail. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 36.28A.300, 36.28A.330, 36.28A.350 (2016).)

However, a judge’s ability to order 24/7 might be limited by the availability of the program in the relevant area.

Talk to a DUI Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI and have questions about the 24/7 Sobriety Program, talk to a Washington DUI attorney. A local DUI lawyer should be able to fill you in on the details of the program and let you know if 24/7 is available in your area.

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