Nebraska's "24/7 Sobriety Program": An Alternative to Jail

Nebraska followed an emerging nationwide trend to rehabilitate rather than punish DUI offenders by expanding its “24/7 Sobriety Program" statewide.

The consequences of a Nebraska DUI conviction are serious and often include jail time. But for drivers who are open to treatment and committed to staying sober, it's possible to avoid some of the penalties that normally result from a DUI conviction.

This article explains how Nebraska's DUI "24/7 Sobriety Program" works, including the requirements and benefits of the program.

Nebraska's DUI 24/7 Sobriety Program

In 2021, Nebraska followed an emerging nationwide trend to rehabilitate rather than punish DUI offenders by expanding its "24/7 Sobriety Program" statewide. Administered at the county level, the program allows qualifying offenders who promise to completely abstain from drugs and alcohol to stay out of jail. Through the 24/7 program, Nebraska aims to:

  • promote recovery and sobriety
  • provide an alternative to jail
  • enhance public safety, and
  • curb DUI and drug-offense recidivism.

Advocates claim that 24/7 programs can also help to reduce instances of domestic violence.

How Nebraska's 24/7 Sobriety Program Works

Offenders who are offered the chance to participate in the 24/7 program sign an agreement to stay sober for the duration of the program. In the spirit of "trust—but verify," alcohol and drug testing is the centerpiece of the program.

Testing Requirements for Nebraska's 24/7 Programs

Judges generally structure the testing requirements for program participants based on whether the offense involved alcohol, drugs, or both. Some of the options include:

  • Twice daily on-site portable breath testing (PBT) for alcohol, 365 days a year (including holidays and weekends). 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 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and then again between 6:30 p.m. 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, participants will be subjected to random urine, saliva, and drug-patch testing.
  • Participants monitored primarily for drugs will be given random alcohol tests, and vice-versa.

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

Special Driving Permit for Nebraska 24/7 Program Participants

After 30 consecutive days of successful testing, participants can apply for a special 24/7 Sobriety driving permit. However, a subsequent DUI or DUI test refusal while driving with the permit is a class IV felony.

Penalties for Testing Dirty While in a 24/7 Program in Nebraska

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 failed PBT/SCRAM: 12 hours in jail.
  • Second failed PBT/SCRAM: 24 hours in jail.
  • Third failed PBT/SCRAM: Offender placed in jail until he or she appears before a judge.
  • First failed drug test: Five days in jail.
  • Second or subsequent failed drug test: Offender placed in jail until he or she appears before a judge.

Participants who miss a test or fail to report will have their bond revoked and will be placed in jail until appearing before a judge.

Which Nebraska Offenders Participate in 24/7 Programs

Although the program varies by county, 24/7 programs are generally for offenders with prior DUI convictions. 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.

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 Nebraska 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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