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Lawrence County introducing a hands free breathalyzer kiosk

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 5:08 PM MDT
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DEADWOOD, S.D. (KEVN) - The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department’s 24/7 program is saying goodbye to handheld breathalyzers and hello to a new machine that will do the work for them.

24/7 is is a pre-trial sobriety program designed to keep repeat offenders of alcohol-involved offenses sober by administering multiple tests a day.

The person is administered a preliminary breath test, or a PBT, twice a day for the term of the program.

At the Lawrence County Sheriffs Department, this test was conducted by either a staff member or a corrections officer and consisted of blowing into a handheld device, but once COVID hit the sheriff’s department stopped all PBT testing.

“The reason that we did that is because when the samples are given, air and, of course, mucus and saliva is projected into the air directly towards the head and face of the person administering the test. We felt that with Covid being an airborne virus that this was unsafe for our employees to do,” explained Tavis Little the Chief Deputy of Lawernce County.

Everyone who could not be released from the 24/7 program was then transitioned to alternate methods of testing using ankle monitoring and remote breath machines…both expensive options.

“I don’t feel that the taxpayers should be unduly burdened for paying for those programs, so finding alternatives that are at the same price range as the lowest cost program is really important for us to do,” said Little.

The cheaper alternative? A breathalyzer kiosk that performs hands-off, efficient PBT testing funded by the people using the system at no additional cost to taxpayers.

‘We feel we are very good stewards to our tax payer’s money, which is one of the main motives behind this,” said Little.

The kiosk will be rented by the department and allows people to perform a PBT on their own…cutting costs and workload for the department.

The same technology is already effective in counties such as Minnehaha and will arrive in Deadwood next month.

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