The 24/7 Sobriety Program was launched as a pilot program in 2005 and was associated with a 4 percent drop in deaths at the county level. The largest reductions occurred among causes of death linked with excessive drinking, such as circulatory conditions, according to RAND Corp. researchers.
The study finds that when people involved in alcohol-linked crimes were monitored several times a day, they stayed away from booze.
Offenders in the program must undergo breathalyzer tests twice a day or wear bracelets that continuously check for alcohol. Those who skip or fail the tests are immediately jailed for a short time, typically a day or two.
"Further work is needed to better understand how programs like 24/7 Sobriety affect not only participants, but also those who are not direct participants, such as their spouses, partners or peers," she added.
Nearly 17,000 people, about 3 percent of South Dakota's adult population, took part in the program between 2005 and 2011. Nearly half entered the program after a repeat drunk driving offense, while others had first-time drunk driving, assault or domestic violence offenses, the researchers said.
In a previous RAND study, investigators found that the 24/7 programs reduced county-level repeat drunk driving arrests by 12 percent and domestic violence arrests by 9 percent. The program is now being implemented in other parts of the United States.