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24/7 Sobriety Bill would increase accountability for drunk drivers

The bill would require twice daily breath tests leading up to trial for those facing alcohol...
The bill would require twice daily breath tests leading up to trial for those facing alcohol offenses.(KOLN)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A sobriety program that’s been in place for several years in South Dakota, which has reduced the number of drunk drivers getting repeat D.U.I’s, is close to becoming law in Nebraska.

The bill, LB 271, would give judges the option of requiring drunk drivers, or others with alcohol related offenses, to do twice daily breath tests for alcohol leading up to trial. If they fail the test, they go to jail, for 12 hours the first time, 24 hours the second and so on.

It was introduced to the Nebraska Legislature by Lincoln Senator Adam Morfeld.

“This is more accountability than our current program with interlock ignition,” Morfeld said.

The program, called a 24/7 sobriety system, would be an alternative to the current interlock ignition system, which requires drivers to do a breath test right before driving to keep a license before trial.

Lancaster County Attorney, Pat Condon, a backer of the bill, said this program would take that a step further.

“This would keep you from drinking,” Condon said. “It would change not only your drinking and driving habit, but change your drinking habit.”

Condon said because this test is done twice a day, they’d know if the person was drinking and driving anyway, even without the interlock system. This is something Morfeld said they don’t always get with interlock.

“Right now people with interlock they can actually go and get a different car and drive it whereas this they can’t get away from it,” Morfeld said.

Condon said this system is working well in South Dakota, where it’s been in place for decades. He said a recent study showed South Dakota has done 11 million of these tests and the pass rate is 98.6%.

Not only making Lincoln roads safer, but getting people on the path to sobriety.

“If they can stay sober while their D.U.I. is going through the system then after than seven or eight months then they think I can do this longer,” Condon said. “I don’t need to drink.”

The bill is in select file right now. There will be one more debate before the final vote, but Morfeld said it has bipartisan support and he’s hopeful it will pass.

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