Courts using high-tech breath testers to keep tabs on first-time, low-level drunk drivers
DENVER – Big Brother may be coming to a court near you in the form of a new alcohol testing system that combines traditional breath testing with government-grade facial mapping. The technology is being used for long-term, unsupervised alcohol testing of first-time and low-level drunk drivers.
SCRAM Remote Breath™ is a portable, handheld device that can require a subject to take an unsupervised breath test on a schedule, randomly, or on-demand based on the requirements of the supervising agency. The facial verification software digitally maps the facial structures of test-takers as they conduct a test, and then automatically matches those images to confirmed, baseline images of the client stored within the system. The facial verification software is designed to ensure the person taking the unsupervised breath test is the offender required to submit to testing.
According to Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets SCRAM Remote Breath, the technology automatically verifies between 90 and 95 percent of the photos captured each day. The remaining 5 to 10 percent are flagged for manual review by law enforcement. “If you don’t have automated facial mapping, you essentially are paying personnel to sit and do nothing but review and “match” or “fail” hundreds and even thousands of photos a day,” says Lou Sugo, vice president of sales and marketing for AMS. “The staff required to manage it is costly, and the accuracy of manual/human identification is very limited, especially when someone is looking at photos all day every day,” he says.
AMS pioneered high-tech, unsupervised alcohol monitoring for high-risk alcohol offenders in 2003 when it released the first 24/7, transdermal alcohol testing system. Known as SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring™ (CAM), the high-intensity monitoring system includes an anklet that automatically samples a test takers sweat every 30 minutes, 24/7, in order to measure for any alcohol consumption. Courts can also opt to turn on house arrest/home detention monitoring at their discretion.
CAM is used predominantly on repeat, hardcore alcohol offenders who are deemed high-risk and high-need based on their level of alcohol abuse or addiction. According to Sugo, the courts have been looking for a less-intensive option for lower level alcohol offenders. “There’s a difference between wanting to assess and monitor an offender identified as low-risk, low-need—such as a first-time drunk driver or a minor in possession—and wanting to monitor a repeat, alcohol-involved offender for community safety and to support long-term behavior change,” he says.
AMS believes the system will not reduce use of their current CAM product, but will actually increase the number of courts utilizing technologies to manage their alcohol-involved offenders. “The courts that have been testing Remote Breath are integrating it with our CAM System. So if someone fails an alcohol test on Remote Breath, the court increases the level of monitoring to the CAM bracelet; if someone proves an extended period of sobriety on theCAM bracelet, the court allows them to decrease monitoring to Remote Breath,” says Sugo.
The development of SCRAM Remote Breath was originally announced in July of last year. AMS did a limited release of the product in November, and it became available nationwide in January.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS) is the world’s leading provider of alcohol testing technologies for the criminal justice industry. The company’s flagship Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) technology, launched in 2003, revolutionized the way courts, agencies and treatment providers monitor and manage alcohol-involved offenders. In 2013 the company launched the SCRAM Systems suite of electronic monitoring technologies, which includes SCRAM Remote Breath™, SCRAM One-Piece GPS™ and SCRAM House Arrest™. AMS employs 140 people worldwide and is a privately held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.