DENVER—As the Labor Day Holiday Weekend marks the end of the 100 Deadly Days of Summer, communities across the US will deploy enhanced, localized enforcement in order to catch—and deter—drunk drivers. Most believe they’re effective, and it’s difficult to argue with the increased arrest rates around a major holiday push. But the core measurement—holiday weekend DUI fatality rates—have remained the same since 2003, leading many communities and even state legislatures to look to new technologies as a way to break the stalemate.
One new technology that is seeing rapid adoption in courts across the country is known as Continuous Alcohol Monitoring, an ankle bracelet/modem system, similar to a home arrest system, that actually samples a drinker’s sweat every hour in order to measure for alcohol consumption. While critics argue that it doesn’t stop a drunk driver at the point of offense, many courts think the technology, when applied to the hardcore, repeat offender, is having a big impact on how we manage, assess and deter repeat offenders¾which accounts for more than 40% of those sentenced each year for a DUI. According to Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets a continuous monitoring system called SCRAM (Secure Remote Alcohol Monitor), more than 22,000 offenders in 37 states have been monitored by the technology in the last three years, making it one of the fastest growing technologies in the corrections industry. “Local enforcement programs are certainly essential,” says Vickers Cunningham, a former Texas State District Court Judge from Dallas County known for looking to new technologies when it comes to balancing offender accountability and public safety. “But until we get to the core of the repeat offender problem—which is the alcohol consumption—we aren’t going to make a dent in the numbers,” says Cunningham, who was a frequent user of SCRAM technology to manage DUI and domestic violence offenders who appeared before his court. “In my 11 years on the bench, this technology was the most effective criminal justice tool I ever used.”
DUI Legislation is Beginning to Drive 24/7 Alcohol Monitoring
According to AMS Chairman and CEO Mike Iiams, state legislators have also begun to recognize the huge need for new technologies to fight the DUIepidemic. States including California, Ohio, Delaware, Nebraska, New York and others have all incorporated language into DUI legislation that supports adoption of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring or earmarks funding to launch these programs. “In 90 percent of SCRAM Programs, the offender is paying all or a significant portion of the daily monitoring fee,” says Iiams. “It’s a model that is seeing widespread adoption because the burden on courts and taxpayers to try to contain the DUI epidemic is extraordinary,” says Iiams. “By monitoring their consumption, courts can hold offenders accountable and intervene quickly when they’re not compliant. If they’re not drinking, they’re not drinking and driving. It’s that simple.”
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM(the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), which conducts automated, hourly tests using Transdermal Analysis in order to determine whether an offender has been consuming alcohol. SCRAM works with community corrections agencies, courts and treatment organizations nationwide to help assess offenders and ensure compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 47 people across the U.S. and is a privately held company headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.