24/7 Monitoring Targets Hardcore Drunk Drivers During Holidays and Beyond
GRANDVILLE, MI—Kent and Ionia counties are aggressively cracking down on the area’s Hardcore Drunk Drivers by requiring sobriety through the use of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) bracelets. The technology is expected to increase compliance for the area’s highest-risk drunk drivers and reduce the risk to other drivers on the road.
Michigan was the first state to use CAM alcohol bracelets in 2002 and remains the second largest state in the U.S. today to use the anklets, second only to Texas. Known as SCRAMx (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), the bracelets are continuously worn by offenders, 24/7, measuring sweat every 30 minutes in order to determine if an offender has been drinking. The technology is used predominantly to monitor sobriety for Hardcore Drunk Drivers, who are defined as offenders with repeat drunk driving arrests and/or high BAC levels at the time of arrest, and they continue to drink and drive even after their licenses have been revoked. According to the Century Council, Hardcore Drunk Drivers account for two out of every three alcohol-related traffic fatalities nationwide.
Area courts began implementing SCRAMx monitoring in February through Midstate Security, a local company that provides a variety of monitoring services to jurisdictions throughout western Michigan. Today Midstate Security is monitoring close to 50 offenders daily with SCRAMx.
The company first began providing a transdermal alcohol monitoring solution for area courts in 2008, testing a system that combined alcohol testing with GPS location monitoring that at the time was new to the market. But the company soon became concerned about the quality of the alcohol testing data. According to Jeff Smith, director of Service/Command Center Operations for Midstate Security, the company decided to drop the system from their potential product offerings, despite the potential use by area courts and their investment in the technology. “We felt we had a substantial obligation to the courts and the community, as well as to offenders, who were at risk of false positives from the system,” says Smith. “Our reputation for doing the right thing is essential, and we knew that despite the economic risks, using an unreliable technology was not an option,” Smith adds that the other system’s requirement for secondary tests to try to confirm an alcohol alert made the alcohol monitoring difficult. “Alcohol is metabolized very quickly in the body. That’s the very reason that transdermal monitoring exists. Requiring a ‘back-up’ urine or breath test meant that offenders had plenty of time to sober up before we could connect with them and conduct these tests—at an even additional expense,” he says. “Only SCRAMx is admissible in court with its own test results, while other technologies have to have the ‘back-up’ testing,” he adds.
Smith says all indications are that the courts are happy to be re-integrating 24/7 alcohol monitoring using SCRAMx, which to-date has monitored more than 25,000 offenders throughout the state of Michigan and more than 200,000 nationwide. In addition to alcohol monitoring every 30 minutes, SCRAMx can also be programmed to provide home arrest/home detention monitoring to offenders who the courts deem to be at higher risk, requiring more supervision.
According to Dick Irrer, regional manager for Denver-based AlcoholMonitoringSystems Monitoring Systems, which manufactures and markets SCRAMx in North America, Michigan has always been known as progressive when it comes to utilizing technologies to enhance community safety. “Michigan was the first state to do BETA testing of SCRAM in 2002,” says Irrer, who was formerly the director of electronic monitoring for the Michigan Department of Corrections. According to Irrer, as prison and jail depopulation initiatives became mandatory in the state to help manage staggering budget deficits, the use of SCRAMx has grown proportionately. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seem to underscore the progress that required sobriety is making on Michigan’s HCDDs. According to the most recent data available from NHTSA, Michigan’s rate of alcohol-related fatalities dropped 13.4% from 2008 to 2009—a substantial decline given that those rates have been fairly stagnant for a number of years.
SCRAMx first became available nationwide in 2003 after nearly a year of BETA testing in Michigan. Today, more than 1,500 offenders in the state are monitored daily with SCRAMx, and nearly 14,000 are monitored daily nationwide.
About “Midstate Security, LLC.
Founded in 1980, Midstate Security is one of the Midwest’s largest providers of security automation, fire detection, and electronic monitoring services. Locally owned and based in Kent County, Midstate Security specializes in comprehensive and cost-effective security solutions using the leading edge video technology, access control products, and monitoring equipment, all supported by an industry leading Command Center. Today Midstate employs more than 65 technicians, consultants, and managers, most of whom live and work within Kent County.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, AMS is the world’s largest provider of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) technology. AMS manufactures SCRAMx, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption and integrates home detention monitoring into a single anklet. SCRAMx 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. AMS employs 126 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.