Skip to Main Content
Media Room

NHTSA Releases Study on Growing Use of Alcohol Anklets to Monitor Drunk Drivers

Media Type: Press Release

Agency provides in-depth look at SCRAMx programs in six jurisdictions

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a new report, Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring: Case Studies, which takes an in-depth look at high-tech alcohol monitoring programs in six U.S. jurisdictions. The study, commissioned in 2010, was designed to evaluate the prevalence of transdermal alcohol bracelets, assess their reliability as a tool for monitoring drunk drivers and share lessons learned for programs looking to adopt the technology.

NHTSA selected six jurisdictions with large-scale use of transdermal alcohol testing technology and looked at multiple facets of each program. The jurisdictions are:

  • The City and County of Denver Electronic Monitoring Program
  • The 23rd Judicial Circuit of Jefferson County, Missouri
  • The Nebraska Supreme Court Office of Probation Administration 
  • The New York 8th Judicial District Hybrid DWI Court
  • The North Dakota Attorney General 24/7 Sobriety Program
  • Wisconsin Community Services (a 501© 3 nonprofit that manages programs in Waukesha, Kenosha, Sheboygan, Milwaukee, Jefferson and Ozaukee counties)

According to the report, released last week, NHTSA 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.

According to Mike Iiams, chairman and CEO of Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc., which manufactures the SCRAMx transdermal system and markets it throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K., the case studies are part of a three-pronged approach that NHTSA generally takes to assess and evaluate technologies. “NHTSA usually begins by evaluating new technologies for reliability, moves on to a discussion of how they’re applied in the courts and then takes a broader look at the lasting impact on recidivism and offender behaviors,” says Iiams.

NHTSA first reported on the reliability of transdermal testing in 2005. The agency is currently conducting a 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 South Dakota, Nebraska 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 Iiams.

SCRAMx has monitored 246,000 offenders since it became available to the criminal justice market in April of 2003.

According to AMS, the NHTSA case studies report looked exclusively at jurisdictions utilizing SCRAMx because their system represents the vast majority of transdermal monitors on offenders daily in the U.S., and because both their product and their delivery model have already been vetted for performance and reliability by researchers, the courts and agencies such as NHTSA. “To our knowledge we’re the only company willing to submit our transdermal technology for outside, independent study,” confirms Iiams. A second start-up transdermal system, which had limited use in the City and County of Denver during the time of the NHTSA study, was part of the evaluation, but the statistics were not included in much of the report’s final analysis.

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.