MACON, CHAMPAIGN COUNTIES CREDITING HIGH-TECH SOBRIETY WITH DOUBLE DIGIT DROPS IN DUIs

September 13th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Below is a story which suggests that SRAMx is the sole reason for a drop in DUI arrests in Illinois counties. The real reason that DUI arrests have decreased is the economy. Restaurants are closing, and even the ones that remain open are struggling due to a significant drop in customers. There are many counties in Illinois that have also had the same decrease in DUIs even though they do not use SCRAM technology as vigorously. Given that fact, it appears once again that prosecutors are falsely claiming credit for something they do not deserve. When the economy returns to its former self, you will see a rise in the arrests. Will prosecutors accept blame then?

Here is the story below:

Prosecutors in Macon and Champaign counties are crediting a focus on Hard Core Drunk Drivers (HCDDs) and the use of technology for record drops in DUI arrest rates since 2008—a reduction that’s nearly four times that of the state’s average.

From 2008 to 2010, Macon County DUI arrests have dropped 30.6%, while Champaign County saw a 29.8% drop during the same time frame. Illinois statewide saw an 8.3% decrease in roughly the same time period. According to Macon County States Attorney Jack Ahola, his county has had no reduction in DUI enforcement efforts during that period, and he’s crediting the implementation of a 24/7 continuous alcohol monitoring program with helping to change the trend of repeat DUIs in his county.

“Drunk drivers, and in particular the hard core, repeat offenders, put our community at incredible risk,” says Ahola. “We just aren’t tolerating it anymore.” The numbers for Macon County show 1,057 DUI arrests in 2008, 1,061 in 2009 and 734 in 2010. To date for 2011, there are 437 arrests, on pace for 655 for the year. Since 2008, both Macon and Champaign counties have been utilizing SCRAMx alcohol monitors. SCRAMx is an ankle bracelet system that actually tests an offender’s sweat every 30 minutes to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. “If they aren’t drinking, they aren’t drinking and driving. And we put them on SCRAMx long enough to get them sober long-term, not just while they’re under our supervision,” says Ahola. DUI offenders in the area are wearing SCRAMx monitors for periods that are double the national average, a fact officials believe is contributing to the behavior change that’s driving the significant drop in DUI arrests.“When they’re sober long enough, they begin to make different choices. We’re clearly seeing the results in our year-to-year DUI arrest numbers” adds Ahola.

Bob Nienhouse, president of CAM Systems, which manages SCRAMx and other electronic monitoring programs throughout the Midwest, agrees. “Research has clearly shown that the longer the period of sobriety, the more likely it is you’ll have long-term behavior change with alcohol and drug-addicted individuals,” says Nienhouse. “We now see Hard Core Drunk Driver programs requiring 365 days of sobriety, enforced with SCRAMx monitoring, while offenders go through treatment and other court-ordered interventions.” Nienhouse credits the success in Champaign and Macon counties to the implementation of comprehensive, tough and well-managed DUI programs that send a signal to the community that DUIs are not going to be taken lightly.

“Nearly 75% of their SCRAMx clients are fully compliant while they’re monitored. The high compliance rate and the fact that, to our knowledge, no SCRAMx offender in this area has been re-arrested for a DUI, demonstrates that these jurisdictions are moving in the right direction,” he says. According to the Century Council, Hard Core Drunk Drivers are defined as drivers with two or more DUI arrest or a high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time of arrest. They account for more than 40% of all drunk driving convictions every year in the U.S.

An added benefit of the area’s sobriety programs is that offenders are required to pay for all or a significant portion of their daily monitoring fees. “These counties are seeing results from solid monitoring and offender accountability, and it’s at no cost to taxpayers,” adds Nienhouse. To-date, more than 3,600 offenders have been monitored statewide with SCRAMx.

SCRAMx first became available to the criminal justice system in 2003. To- date the system has monitored more than 190,000 offenders in 48 states. The technology is used to monitor repeat, Hard Core Drunk Drivers, as well as domestic violence offenders and as a supervision tool in family courts.

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