Finally, Something that Works for DUI

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A report out of California gives some good news on reducing the number of repeat DUI arrests. The study compared Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) with those only on driving restrictions without remote monitoring. They found a drop in recidivism at the two-year, post DUI benchmark.

This is important because what are known as “hard-core drunk drivers” have an 11% baseline repeat conviction rate. Dropping this to 6.5%, even after monitoring ceases represents a leap forward in positive results. A hard-core drunk driver is defined as an offender with a previous DUI (in the last 3 years) or someone with a blood alcohol reading exceeding twice the legal limit. This class of offender accounts for an estimated 70% of fatal accidents involving alcohol.

With about 10% of drunks causing 70% of the accidents, reaching this high-risk slice of the pie has a more than proportional impact on accidents.

The CAM is a unit that not only measures and records blood alcohol levels, but also transmits the information to a remote monitoring site. Violators who are alcohol restricted are forced to stop drinking or suffer the consequences of violating the terms of their parole. The monitoring can last up to six months, and for some alcoholics, this represents a significant period of sobriety.

Remote monitoring is attractive to government authorities, not only because it tracks drinking, but because it costs much less than incarceration. Part of the cost is borne by offenders. Those convicted also prefer monitoring because it allows them to work and carry on a normal life – as long as they do not drink. The units pick up on blood alcohol content, location and any attempts to tamper with the devices.

About as big as a pack of cigarettes, these units transmit in the same way a cell phone does. They can be concealed under clothing as well, keeping the matter private.

All of this is good news for California. The state faces federal mandates to lower prison and jail populations. Alcohol bracelets, for now, seem like a real win/win.

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