Alcohol Monitoring Technology Offers Alternatives for DUI/DWI Sentencing

Recent advances in technology have made it possible for people convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol and other alcohol-related offenses to stay out of jail and live their lives while still paying their debt to society. Global positioning devices have been in use for years to keep low-level offenders out of jail and serving out their sentence at home, but technology has now been developed that not only tracks the location of the wearer, but also the amount of alcohol that he or she has imbibed.

Interlock Devices and SCRAM Bracelets

Ignition interlock devices have been in use in Virginia and around the country for years now for people who have been convicted of multiple alcohol-related offenses or higher-level DUIs. A device like this is integrated into the vehicle's motor. It forces the driver to perform a Breathalyzer-type, alcohol-sensing, breath test before the engine will engage. If any level of alcohol is detected, the engine will not start and court or probation officials will be notified.

This technology is designed both to discourage the driver from drinking and to keep other motorists safe by preventing the driver from operating the vehicle while intoxicated. Statistics have shown that these devices are usually successful, but they are expensive to both install and maintain since they require round-the-clock monitoring. There are also ways to skirt the testing requirements by having a passenger or friend blow into the device instead and, of course, no testing is required if the driver simply takes a different vehicle that doesn't have the interlock installed.

Another remote monitoring option is the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet. This technology is a much newer tool in the arsenal of law enforcement officials seeking alternatives to traditional punishments like incarceration for low-level alcohol offenses. SCRAM bracelets - made famous by some former child stars now notorious for their wild ways - work by testing skin cells and sweat at regular intervals, looking for even minute traces of alcohol, and if a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher is detected, then law enforcement or probation officials are notified. These have been steadily gaining ground in recent years, and now Virginia has a certified SCRAM distributor based out of Leesburg.

Freedom at a Price

Technology has made it possible for some of the people convicted of alcohol-related charges to stay out of jail and get on with their lives, but that freedom comes with a price. Many Constitutional law advocates view monitoring technologies like ignition interlock devices, GPS location devices and SCRAM bracelets as a huge invasion of privacy for the wearers. Regardless of the punishment, though, having a DUI, DWI or other alcohol-based moving violation on your record could cause problems for years to come; if you are facing one of those charges, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can help minimize the consequences for you. Contact one in your area as soon as possible after your arrest in order to start protecting your rights.

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