Breath test sensor
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How one US state deals with alcohol-related crime

A stringent project designed to curb alcohol-related crime in the US state of South Dakota is to be used as a model for a project in the UK.

The "24/7 Sobriety Program" forces problem drinkers to take - and pay for - twice-daily breath tests to prove they are sober.

The tests can be used as a sentence after a conviction, or a condition of bail, after an alcohol-related crime. They can also be imposed upon parents as a condition of having children returned to a household in families with a history of alcohol abuse.

Failure of a test usually means an instant short spell in jail, and it is hoped that such a dramatic sentence will shock people out of re-offending - thereby reducing long-term prison numbers and cutting off alcohol-related crime at the source.

The Greater London Authority is working on a pilot of the project meaning compulsory sobriety would be used as a sentencing tool for magistrates and judges as an alternative to custody.

The BBC's Catrin Nye travelled to South Dakota to see what the programme looks like there.

  • 27 Oct 2010
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