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Program To Stop Repeat Drunk Driving Working

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A program offered by the Human Service Center located in Rhinelander has shown significant reductions in people arrested for repeat drunk driving.

Heavy drinkers leave biological marks in places like fingernails and blood. Drivers repeatedly arrested for drunk driving have had samples taken where their alcohol use is monitored in an effort to work with clients and adjust their treatment options.

Dr. Pamela Bean from BioMark Global in Madison says this program has been used successfully in Europe for decades. She says after a question session, the wide majority of people who went through the program curtailed their alcohol consumption...

".....have you reduced your use of alcohol? 92 percent said yes. Have you had any additional legal problems? 97 percent said no..."

Jodi Baker does the drunk driving assessments for the center. They've used the system since 2012 and she says it works...

"....the rearrest rates are a lot lower. Now we have proof why they are a lot lower...the truth is the longer that you can keep them sober is the longer they will stay sober...."

Behavioral Health Administrator Donna Shimeck says even though the program is losing its grant funding, they will continue it, because the results are positive...

"...the benefit to the program is having people on the road to recovery. That's our most important thing. We want people to have that treatment for the issues they are having...."

Human Service Center Board Chair Maggie Peterson says this closer way of monitoring repeat drunk drivers gets to the core of the problem....

"...the intervention being matched when the person needs it. The information they get from the biomarker helps them have the intervention be matched with the person at the time they need it in stead of waiting for the whole driver treatment program to be over or have the person reoffend....."

The program is $400 that the offender pays, and keeps people out of being housed in an expensive jail cell. The Human Service Center serves residents in Oneida, Vilas and Forest counties.

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