The Charlotte Observer published an interesting article this week exposing a little known fact about North Carolina treatment courts: that they cannot use the ankle bracelets designed to detect alcohol in the body. Due to a committee decision in 2007 judges in these treatment courts aren’t allowed to utilize what some other state’s see as a useful tool in alcohol offense control.
In North Carolina, only 1,100 people have been monitored by devices like this. Nationally, over 140,000 offenders have. Obviously, NC isn’t making use of it like other jurisdictions.
There are more than 40 DUI and drug courts in the state. These specialty courts use a variety of tools to help offenders battle addiction and stay away from further criminal violations. For some, alcohol detection bracelets seem like a logical addition to these tools.
However, a committee called the Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee decided the bracelets weren’t effective enough nor cost relevant to stay in the court system. They also questioned the methods used by the manufacturer’s of the devices, stating they employed a door-to-door sales sort of approach, marketing the device to individual judges and courts like a used car salesman.
These brackets, also known as SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) bracelets, measures any alcohol consumption by the wearer, by continuously monitoring alcohol any level in the body. directly through the skin.
The devices require a daily $12 fee, paid directly to the company who makes them. This makes them unaffordable for many people within the DUI courts to begin with and because studies show that those who elect to be monitored by such devices often get more lenient treatment, it only further widens the socioeconomic gap within the justice system.
In addition to the cost issues is reliability. The Committee who barred the devices use in 2007 pointed out false positive readings and took issue with the fact that the “studies” proving the effectiveness of the devices were funded by the manufacturers themselves, throwing any chance of scientific objectivity out the window.
Occasionally, despite the barring of these devices in treatment courts, we do see them being used. Their tendency to deliver bad results and the fact that they often don’t prevent further law violations makes them a questionable choice for any judge, however.
These sort of technological advances are seen frequently and even in cases of breathalyzer tests. As a defense attorney, challenging the results of a breath test at the time of your DWI arrest is just one way we may be able to help you with your case.
Penalties for a DWI conviction in NC are quite serious. If you already have a DUI on your record, new charges can be particularly tough to face. Please contact our law offices today if you are facing charges of drunk driving. We can provide a free consultation to discuss your options.