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County may take part in new DUI offender program

July 1st, 2014 - 6:50am

(Port Angeles) - A pilot program aimed at curbing the recidivism rate for DUI offenders, may soon be using Clallam County as one of its participants.

Known as the “24/7 Sobriety Program”, Washington is the fourth state in the nation now running a pilot project.

The state is looking for three counties and two cities to be part of the project. Yesterday, county commissioners gave the go-ahead for the sheriff's office to proceed.

The plan allows judges the option to offer a contract to the offender, in which they are monitored for any consumption of alcohol or drugs.

Jim Borte is project coordinator with the sheriff's office. He says that technology plays a big part in monitoring defendants.

But the chief public defender in Clallam County, Harry Gasnick questioned whether due process was being followed, when a defendant enters into the contract associated with participating in the 24/7 Project.

Commissioners and Sheriff Bill Benedict countered that the contract was a voluntary agreement offered to a defendant and not an imposed court sanction.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs are expected to provide a study that measures changes in recidivism and related county or city savings or costs each year during the pilot period.

The program would be implemented statewide by January 1, 2017.

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