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Reno Gets Tough on Drunk Drivers

Media Type: Press Release

RENO, NV—Washoe County Courts have joined forces with a Reno-based company in order to use the latest in high-tech law enforcement to manage and monitor alcohol-involved offenders.

Sparks Justice Courts are now using a technology called SCRAM® (the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) on DUI offenders. The system includes an ankle bracelet that offenders wear 24 × 7 in order to detect alcohol consumption. Termed Continuous Alcohol Monitoring, the system uses noninvasive transdermal analysis to automatically and continuously monitor the sweat of problem drinkers, enforcing compliance with court-ordered sobriety and supporting better treatment outcomes. Already used extensively in both municipal and felony level courts in Clark County, Sparks Courts are the first in Northern Nevada to employ the technology to manage offenders in both their DUI and Family Court programs. The system is delivered on the offender-pay model, which means that offenders are paying all, or a significant portion, of their daily monitoring cost, which averages between $10 and $12 a day.

According to Michael Straw, vice president of Intercept LLC, the Reno-based company that manages the SCRAM program in Northern Nevada, courts in the area have been looking for better alternatives to monitor alcohol offenders. “This tool helps the courts to quickly identify the problem offenders and catch them early in relapse,” says Straw. Judge Susan Deriso, who is currently using the technology in her court, agrees, calling it an important tool when dealing with alcohol abuse in the criminal justice system. “It makes these offenders accountable 24-hours-a-day, so we get continuous supervision, yet it allows the offender to stay involved in the things they need to do to be successful,” says Deriso. “And there is no cost incurred by the court or taxpayers,” she adds. Judge Kevin Higgins says the technology is a great step forward in managing community safety, as well. “When jails are overcrowded, tools like this are essential when trying to balance supervision with protecting the public,” says Higgins.

Intercept is seeing rapid adoption of the system in Sparks and anticipates strong program growth throughout Washoe County in 2007. To-date, the technology is monitoring DUI offenders, as well as offenders in the county’s Family Court. “This technology is ideal for the problems courts face in managing and rehabilitating the hard core, problem drinkers,” says Straw. “There’s nothing else like it.”

Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets SCRAM, says that Continuous Alcohol Monitoring means that offenders can no longer drink around testing schedules and get away with it. “The repeat alcohol offender cycle isn’t just costly in terms of money, it’s also a high risk for local communities,” says Don White, vice president of Field Operations for AMS. “Because SCRAM monitors high-risk offenders continuously throughout their court-mandated sentences, it offers an unprecedented level of accountability. Once the bracelet is locked on an offender’s ankle, most think long and hard before drinking. It’s a powerful deterrent.” On the market since April 2003, the technology is now in use in 43 states, including Nevada, and SCRAM has monitored more than 36,000 offenders in over 1,000 courts nationwide.

Alcohol and Crime: The Nevada Picture

According to The Century Council, which publishes state-by-state DUI arrest and conviction data, there are more than 12,000 DUI arrests every year in Nevada. The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that nearly 40 percent of those convicted each year of drunk driving are repeat offenders. The Bureau of Justice Statistics also reports that in three out of four cases of domestic violence¾75 percent¾the offender is drunk at the time of the offense.

About Intercept, LLC
Intercept, LLC is a private service provider that delivers electronic monitoring and alcohol testing services to courts throughout Northern Nevada. Founded in 2005, Intercept is the exclusive provider of SCRAM technology to courts in Washoe County, as well as a number of Native American Reservations throughout Northern Nevada. The company employs 3 people, with headquarters offices in Reno.

About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world’s only Continuous Alcohol Testing system that uses transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption. SCRAM 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. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 62 people across the U.S. and is a privately held company headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.