Most convicted drunk drivers face fines, license suspension, and even jail time. However, there are several alternative sentencing methods that can replace time in prison. One such method is electronic monitoring.
If a judge rules that an offender qualifies for electronic monitoring, then he or she can reduce or eliminate jail time altogether. For repeat offenders, electronic monitoring may be administered in addition to jail time. Nevertheless, most of the other penalties, such as paying large fines and license suspension, still apply.
Electronic monitoring is very similar to house arrest. With electronic monitoring, the offender wears an ankle bracelet that electronically tracks his or her location every second of the day and night. The electronic sensor is linked by telephone lines to a main computer system which sends off a constant signal.
If there is an interruption in the signal, which occurs if the offender strays beyond the court-authorized radius of the receiver, the computer system automatically records the date and time that the interruption occurred, as well as the date and time that the signal resumes.
If the signal is interrupted during a time when the user is scheduled to be at home, a parole officer or other monitoring agent checks into the violation. Such a violation of the terms of electronic monitoring can result in the offender being subject to house arrest.
Electronic monitoring allows a drunk driving offender who is sentenced to jail time to serve the time at home instead of in prison. Generally speaking, the offender is allowed to go to school or work as long as curfew is obeyed. The individual is also permitted to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, court appearances, court-ordered education classes, and any other places required as part of probation.
The time spent wearing an electronic monitoring device is usually equal to the length of the jail sentence, but in some cases, it could be longer. One exception to this rule is in states where a minimum of 24 hours in jail is required for a DUI conviction. The offender may receive 15 days of electronic monitoring to replace the minimum jail sentence if time in prison poses a serious risk to the person’s physical or mental state.
There is an additional electronic monitoring device that is sometimes used in drunk driving cases. It is called SCRAM, or Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. This device is used to monitor offenders whose probation requires that they remain alcohol-free. It is worn on the ankle or wrist and detects alcohol excretion from the skin by sampling the user’s sweat and measuring his or her blood alcohol content level. This device is a fairly new method, but it has already monitored over 20,000 offenders.