South Dakota had a drinking problem. A rural state with a sparse population and few public transportation options available, driving under the influence of alcohol had become a major issue. Then three years ago, something changed, causing alcohol related crime to drop, and making the roads safer.
South Dakota launched the 24/7 Sobriety Project. The program makes DWI offenders take an alcohol breath test twice a day, charging them a dollar for each test. Those who pass walk free, but those who fail can wind up in for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. The goal, as the program's name suggests, is absolute sobriety for previous offenders, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program also reduces costs for the state, by reducing the number of people in prison.
Thousands of miles away, the city of London is watching. While the Mount Rushmore State has just a tenth of the population of the British capital, city officials are considering bringing 24/7 Sobriety to London, where 70,000 people were admitted to the hospital between 2007 and 2008 due to alcohol-attributable conditions. Kit Malthouse, London's deputy mayor, tells us why he thinks what works in South Dakota will work in London as well.