Agency Releases Study on Growing Use of SCRAMx Alcohol Anklets to Monitor Drunk Drivers
LINCOLN, NE—The Nebraska Supreme Court Office of Probation Administration was one of six jurisdictions in the U.S. chosen for a newly released National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study that evaluates the impact of high-tech transdermal alcohol monitoring on drunk drivers and local communities. The new report, Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring: Case Studies, was released by NHTSA in early September.
The report, commissioned in 2010, takes an in-depth look at high-tech, transdermal alcohol monitoring programs in six U.S. jurisdictions. The Nebraska program, which first piloted transdermal alcohol monitoring in 2007, was chosen for the study due to the state’s large-scale use of transdermal alcohol testing technology. The NHTSA case studies are designed to evaluate the prevalence of transdermal alcohol bracelets, assess their reliability as a tool for monitoring drunk drivers and share lessons learned for other jurisdictions looking to adopt the technology.
According to Deb Minardi, deputy administrator for the Nebraska Office of Probation Administration, her office first piloted the program in 2007 as a part of the substance abuse treatment program. “This program is intended to provide a meaningful period of abstinence, in conjunction with a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program, in order to promote behavioral change,” says Minardi, whose program has monitored more than 2,000 offenders to-date with the technology. “It allows us to strike an important balance between client accountability, community safety and the recovery process for clients struggling with alcohol,” she says. The SCRAM device is used exclusively in the Nebraska program.
NHTSA researchers looked at multiple elements of each jurisdiction, including how each program integrates the transdermal alcohol testing with ignition interlock, electronic house arrest/monitoring, treatment and drug testing. The report concluded that transdermal alcohol monitors are prevalent, beneficial to courts and agencies, serve as a strong deterrent to drinking and are more effective than prior monitoring techniques, which were reported by agencies as inadequate.
Transdermal alcohol monitoring generally includes an anklet, worn 24/7, that tests for the presence of alcohol every 30 minutes by sampling the insensible perspiration constantly given off by the skin. The jurisdictions selected for the study were all program that utilize the SCRAM technology,
The SCRAM program in Nebraska
The Probation Administration introduced transdermal monitoring services to Nebraska, but the service is also available through the state’s parole board and problem-solving courts. Offenders in the agency program are referred to one of three private, local providers for initial installation of bracelet, and are required to pay for the cost of installation, monitoring and final removal of the device. Financial assistance is available for those unable to pay for up to 120 days of monitoring. The average time spent wearing a SCRAM bracelet is 85 days, according to AMS statistics.
To-date there have been more than 5,000 offenders in Nebraska who have been monitored with SCRAM technology.
DUI in Nebraska
According to the NHTSA, there were 190 traffic fatalities in Nebraska in 2010, 53 of them alcohol-related. That number is down from 256 traffic fatalities, 91 of them alcohol-related, in 2007, the year the SCRAMx system was first utilized in Nebraska.
NHTSA, Continued Evaluation
NHTSA first reported on the reliability of transdermal testing in 2005, part of the agency’s three-pronged approach to evaluating new technologies on the basis of reliability, how the technology is used by the courts, and the long-term impact on recidivism and offender behavior. The agency is currently conducting the SCRAMx recidivism study, slated for release in mid-2013, which will take a broad range look at recidivism data for offenders sentenced to wear SCRAMx Bracelets in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. “The reliability of SCRAMx has been studied and reported on repeatedly since we went to market. We’ve now progressed to a broader look at the best ways to apply the technology in order to maximize both short-term safety and long-term impact,” says Mike Iiams, chairman and CEO of Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.,
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS)
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 agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. AMS employs 131 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.