New Lake County Program Takes High-Tech Approach to Fight Repeat Drunk Driving

Alcohol-sensing anklets address DUIs and alcohol-fueled crime

With nearly 1,800 DUI arrests in 2016 Lake County has the fourth highest rate of drunk driving in Illinois, and high-risk DUI offenders—those who repeatedly drive drunk or are most likely to cause a serious crash—account for up to a third of those arrests. Now, to improve public safety and reduce repeat offenses, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office has launched a new program that will monitor these high-risk offenders around the clock to ensure they aren’t drinking.

As a condition of bond, drunk driving offenders who cause a crash with serious injuries, those with multiple DUIs and those who are arrested with a high BAC will be required to stay sober and wear a high-tech anklet that monitors them for drinking 24/7. Post-conviction, these offenders can be sentenced to monitored sobriety for up to 180 days. The program is also set up to address other offenses, like domestic violence and assault, where alcohol played a contributing role.

The goal of the program is to reduce the number of offenders who are putting the community at risk by committing alcohol-involved crimes. Offenders are responsible for the costs of their monitoring, which allows them to maintain their employment and family commitments while ensuring they aren’t drinking and endangering the public.

According to Michael G. Nerheim, Lake County State’s Attorney, “When we separate these offenders from alcohol, we know they aren’t going to be out drinking and driving or committing other alcohol-involved crimes. We are targeting the root cause of these problems, saving taxpayers’ money and giving these offenders the chance to get sober and get their lives back on track.”

Known as SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring, or SCRAM CAM, the anklet automatically tests the wearer’s perspiration every 30 minutes for alcohol consumption. The technology has been used to monitor 620,000 high-risk DUI offenders around the country and more than 12,500 people in Illinois.

“Alcohol monitoring, especially when it’s part of a larger program of supervision and treatment, can support long-term behavior change, making it less likely these individuals will be back here for another offense in the future,” notes State’s Attorney Nerheim.