Local News

Ankle Bracelet Keeps Drunk Drivers in Check

Posted April 27, 2007 7:43 p.m. EDT

— An Orange County judge said an ankle-monitoring bracelet is keeping drunk drivers off the road.

The device is known as the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring system, or SCRAM. Rather than measuring blood-alcohol content, it measures the rate at which alcohol dissipates through the skin and feeds that information to the court system.

"With this device, we can monitor alcohol use and the amount of alcohol use 24/7," said District Judge Joe Buckner, who oversees district courts in Orange and Chatham counties.

An alcohol violation -- or taking the device off -- can put the offender back in jail. Successful use can save limited jail space and help reform repeat offenders, who make up about one-third of all drunken driving arrests in North Carolina.

Buckner said not keeping an eye on the worst drunk drivers is a disservice to victims.

"It dishonors the memory of those people who were killed and the people who were maimed or physically ruined by drunk drivers," he said. "The DWI offender, especially the multiple offender, is more dangerous to more people in our community than any other offender. Even a domestic violence offender tends to have a targeted victim, but the DWI offender is dangerous to everybody on the roads and sidewalks of our community."

Legislators are considering changes to state laws to give judges more freedom to impose the use of the monitoring bracelets.

"Now that we've got the ability to monitor, we owe it to (victims) to do everything we possibly can to prevent further tragedy," Buckner said.