Celebrity DUIs Draw Attention to High-Tech Law Enforcement
DENVER, CO—Hollywood’s recent spate of high-profile DUI arrests is doing more than shining the spotlight on the epidemic of drinking and driving. Some of the newest trends in high-tech law enforcement are also getting a lot of attention, highlighting the way courts are improving the way in which they balance high-risk offender management with community safety.
While Martha Stewart made “house arrest” a household name, one alcohol-specific tool that’s seeing a lot of attention is SCRAM ® (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), an alcohol-specific monitoring bracelet that offenders wear on their ankles 24 ×7. The bracelet actually samples an individual’s insensible perspiration, every hour, to check for alcohol consumption. While SCRAM is predominantly used to monitor repeat, high-risk DUI offenders, the system is also proving useful in managing domestic violence offenders and as a tool in family courts. Despite a recent surge in publicity surrounding celebrity DUI cases, according to Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets SCRAM, the system is widely used in more than 1,000 courts in 43 states and has already monitored nearly 36,000 alcohol-restricted offenders.
A relatively recent addition to the arsenal employed by Los Angeles County courts, SCRAM has been on the market since April of 2003. “One of the most critical problems in the criminal justice system is substance abuse, and alcohol alone is estimated to be involved in more than 3 million violent crimes each year,” says Mike Iiams, chairman and CEO of AMS. Ron Pentz, CEO of Vigilnet California, which provides SCRAM technology to courts in Los Angeles County, agrees. “The numbers are staggering,” says Pentz. “The problem is drinking—the addiction. And the courts are starting to respond accordingly. If an offender isn’t drinking, then they’re not drinking and driving—or drinking and assaulting their spouse or children. It’s that simple.”
Iiams is quick to caution that technologies like SCRAM are not a cure-all for the DUI epidemic. “But when it’s combined with treatment, education and other tools, it’s proving to be a very valuable component of successful DUI programs,” says Iiams.
With more than 1.4 million DUI arrests throughout the U.S. and more than 780,000 sentenced to community supervision each year, it stands to reason that, statistically, there will be a number of high-profile people caught up in the system. “This is absolutely not an easy out for affluent or celebrity offenders,” says Iiams. “If you ask anyone who’s been on SCRAM while struggling with alcohol addiction, you’ll understand that this is a difficult problem.” According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 17.6 million Americans are dependent on or abuse alcohol, and alcohol abuse costs the U.S. $185 billion each year.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world’s only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses 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. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 62 people across the U.S. and is a privately held company headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.