UPDATE: Alcohol Bracelet Saving Taxpayers Money

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BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) – An alcohol bracelet used to fight drunk driving has saved taxpayers in Boone County hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.

It’s been roughly one year since Boone County began enforcing the ankle bracelet for DUI offenders called the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, also known as SCRAM.

The device can determine if a person has been drinking alcohol by testing perspiration once every half hour.

It tests continually 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Boone County State’s Attorney Michelle Courier says so far 32 people have been ordered to wear the device and out of that, only one person has violated the program. Courier says had those offenders spent time in jail, that would have cost taxpayers around $180,000.

“We’re saving taxpayer dollars by now having to maintain them in the jail. Ultimately, that individual is able to be a productive member of our community. They’re not losing their jobs because they’re not in jail. So, all the way around, this is a huge tool for us and I think we’re very blessed to have it,” said Courier.

Courier says the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office is considering using the SCRAM bracelet in the near future.

DUI offenders currently pay around $8 a day to wear the device, not costing taxpayers any money.

A judge decides how long the person wears the bracelet on a case-by-case basis.

Posted: July 23, 2014 -- Story by Lauren Kravets

STATELINE (WIFR) -- The results of drinking and driving are something we report too often, whether it's a fatality or jail time. Now the Boone County State's Attorney's office has a new weapon to keep drunk drivers from re-offending.

Brad Thompkins can only ride in the passenger seat. His license was revoked after getting two DUI's just four months a part in 2008, he also served jail time.

"It put a stop on my life, financially, emotionally, mentally," says Thompkins.

Thompkins believes there should be even tougher penalties for drunk drivers. An ankle bracelet called SCRAM, which stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, is one of those tougher tools now in Boone County.

The bracelet tests perspiration and body temperature through a metal plate, so once you put the bracelet on, it takes a sample every half hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If an offender has any amount of alcohol, the bracelet will know.

"We've had people use a mouthwash that had alcohol in it and they didn't know, and it shows (a spike)," says Pam Kirchner, a field technician with Alcohol Monitors of Illinois.

Monitor graphs would also show a spike if a drink spills on your skin, but offenders won't get in trouble unless they're intentionally drinking. Kirchner helps install SCRAM ankle bracelets in Jo Daviess County where she says the success rate is high.

"People that are wearing the bracelet are more successful because they know they can't fool it. I've had clients that have kept their families together, that have kept their jobs with this bracelet instead of being incarcerated," says Kirchner.

Thompkins says he supports the new tool.

"The ankle bracelet, I feel that would be more beneficial because what that's doing is eliminating drinking completely."

Third-party monitors typically check the results of the samples once a day . In Boone County, offenders will have to pay to wear the ankle bracelet; anywhere from $8 to $15 a day.

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