Tough New DUI Law Drives Surge in 24/7 Alcohol Monitoring
MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — When Tennessee’s new DUI bill took effect on January 1st, courts statewide began to ramp up integration of a high-tech alcohol monitoring system to keep tabs on hard core drunk drivers facing charges for a new offense. The alcohol-sniffing anklets, known as SCRAMx (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), are monitoring offenders 24/7 pretrial to keep the high-risk group from re-offending, and the program is at no cost to the taxpayers.
SCRAMx is an alcohol testing system that includes an anklet, worn 24/7, that actually samples a person’s perspiration every 30 minutes in order to test for alcohol consumption. SCRAMx anklets have been in limited use in Tennessee since 2005, when prosecutors in Williamson County tested an early generation of the technology and began integrating it into programs designed to monitor drunk drivers post conviction. Since HB 3281 took effect, officials have seen a 738 percent increase in the use of SCRAMx, predominantly to monitor repeat alcohol offenders pre-trial, with the goal of mitigating the risk to the community while they await adjudication of their case.
In the last several weeks, the anklets have become available to court officials in Memphis and surrounding counties, thanks to The Justice Network, a Memphis-based provider of testing, monitoring and education services to area courts. Memphis judges will begin meeting this week to learn about the science behind SCRAMx and work with Justice Network officials on how they want to implement the system with pretrial repeat offenders.
Seen as a progressive piece of DUI legislation in the U.S., Tennessee’s new law focuses on what are termed “Hard Core Drunk Drivers,” or those with one or more prior convictions and other aggravating conditions, such as a high Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest. According to The Century Council, which published a Prosecutorial Guide for Hard Core Drunk Drivers in 2010, a high percentage of Hard Core Drunk Drivers re-offend between the time of arrest and their date of trial, and 98 percent suffer from alcohol abuse or addiction. “It’s a win-win for the community, both for safety and as taxpayers,” says Paul Ross, director at The Justice Network. “Our biggest growth market right now in many states is the monitoring of offenders who meet the criteria for Hard Core Drunk Driver pre-trial,” he adds. HCDDs account for more than 70 percent of DUI fatalities nationwide each year.
To-date just under 1,400 offenders have been monitored with the SCRAMx System statewide in Tennessee. More than 200 have been sentenced to SCRAMx as a condition of bond since the law went into effect January 1, and officials anticipate a continued increase in use of the system over the next 12 months. “Effective monitoring for sobriety in the community can save even small jurisdictions millions of dollars a year,” says Lou Sugo, vice president of Marketing for Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAMx system throughout North America. “And if they’re not drinking, you know they’re not drinking and driving. For these offenders, the issue is sobriety, and enforcing that 24/7 testing can make a substantial impact,” he says. Sixty-nine percent of offenders on SCRAMx in Tennessee have been fully compliant while being monitored.
The Justice Network, which will manage the SCRAMx program in and around Memphis, is holding educational meetings for judges in Memphis this week, introducing them to the science behind the system and working with judges to understand how they want to implement the system and enforce violations.
Launched as SCRAM to the corrections market in 2003, the system has monitored more than 170,000 offenders for alcohol in 48 states to-date. In February of 2010 AMS launched the newest generation of the system, SCRAMx, which incorporates home detention monitoring in the same bracelet.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS) is the world’s largest provider of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring 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.
About Justice Network, Inc.
The Justice Network is a Memphis-based provider of supervision and monitoring services for courts and agencies in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. Justice Network provides probation and diversion supervision, drug and alcohol testing, electronic curfew and house arrest monitoring, educational classes and community service work services. The company currently employees 49 people in nine offices throughout their three-state region.
SOURCE Alcohol Monitoring Systems