DENVER, CO—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a decrease in the number of alcohol-related fatalities in 2007, with 32 states reporting a decline and a nationwide drop of 3.7 percent overall. After years of stagnant numbers, many experts are looking at the judicial system’s increased integration of alcohol-specific programs as a potential contributor to the trend.
According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), over the last decade the industry has seen a fundamental shift in the way the courts manage DWI and other alcohol-involved offenders, requiring mandatory treatment and technologies such as 24/7 alcohol monitoring in order to tackle what most experts believe is the root cause of the epidemic—alcohol abuse and addiction.
C. West Huddleston, executive director of NADCP, says that DWI-specific courts are being modeled after the success of Drug Courts, which have consistently shown substantial improvements in offender management since the mid 1980s, measured by decreased drug and alcohol abuse, declines in repeat arrest rates and significant cost-savings when it comes to managing drug-addicted offenders. “DWI courts have really begun to emerge in the last decade, and we’re now beginning to see some of the long-term impact of those programs,” says Huddleston.
According to Huddleston, the role of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring in a DWI court is substantial, since alcohol metabolizes quickly, and is thus often difficult to detect with the same random testing protocols that have proven to be essential for drug-addicted offenders. “I believe Continuous Alcohol Monitoring is the only way that courts can detect an alcohol offender’s use and abuse, and ultimately determine the severity of their problem and manage them accordingly,” he says. “The ability to ensure they remain abstinent for a period of time gives them a head start in their treatment, and it’s proving to be a springboard to long-term abstinence and recovery.”
Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS) manufactures and marketsSCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), a high-tech Continuous Alcohol Monitoring System used in 46 states. AMS reports that they’ve seen rapid adoption of their technology into courts in their five years on the market, and they attribute that to the fact that judges are changing their focus from managing the car to managing the individual—and the addiction—24/7. “Despite the availability of a number of programs that focus on limiting an offender’s ability to drive once they’ve been convicted of a DWI, for decades both DWI fatality rates and repeat offender statistics have been stagnant,” says Mike Iiams, AMS chairman and CEO. “The judicial system should be commended for their determination to find effective programs focused on changing long-term behavior and attacking the problem head-on,” he adds. “I believe we’re just beginning to see the results of that shift.”
AMS reports that since the SCRAM System first became available in 2003, they’ve monitored 70,000 offenders and conducted 144 million alcohol tests. In addition to monitoring DWI offenders, SCRAM is also used to monitor domestic violence offenders, juvenile offenders and other populations that are increasingly struggling with alcohol misuse and addiction. To-date, eight states have passed DWI legislation that includes Continuous Alcohol Monitoring language, and bills are pending in several other states for 2008 and 2009.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world’s only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption.SCRAM fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing courts and community corrections agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Available since 2003, SCRAM has monitored more than 70,000 offenders in 46 states. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 99 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.