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Karen Kringlie, Fargo, Published July 06 2013

Letter: Sobriety program for juveniles

I noted the news release information that came out in many North Dakota papers and news outlets about the tougher new DUI laws that took effect July 1. I thought it might also be important for parents to know and discuss with their teenagers that this past legislative session also increased consequences for youth who drive under the influence.

For adults, the 24/7 Sobriety Program has been in place statewide since August 2010. Now that program has become mandatory for juveniles not only if they admit or are found to have committed the offense of driving under the influence but also if they are found to have been a minor consuming while driving. The 24/7 program requires twice-per-day breath alcohol testing, remote electronic alcohol monitoring, and drug testing for up to nine months. A juvenile required to participate in the program will need to report twice per day to the local county 24/7 testing site, which is typically the local county jail or local sheriff’s department.

Adults are able, under North Dakota law, to obtain a temporary driver’s license that allows them to drive to the testing site, but this is not an option for juveniles once they lose a license under the graduated driver’s license law. That means it can be challenging in rural areas for parents to drive a son or daughter twice a day to the testing site.

Note also that there are mandatory program fees that in most cases cannot be waived by the court. Failure to report to testing or testing positive can result in further court sanctions. More information about the program can be found on the website of the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office.

The most important influences in a teen’s life are the adults around them. I encourage parents, teachers and the community in general to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving with our youth.

Kringlie is director of Juvenile Court, East Center and Southeast Judicial Districts.