American Judges Association


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Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 44:3. Copyright © 2007-2008 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission.


Traditional sentencing sanctions have not been particularly effective against people caught driving while impaired (DWI) and less so against repeat offenders. Technology has provided judges with some new sentencing options, including various forms of electronic home monitoring. This article takes an initial step toward evaluating the effectiveness of alcohol monitoring as a sentencing option in DWI cases with the goal of eventually determining which types of offenders, if any, would benefit most from alcohol monitoring. The constant monitoring of alcohol consumption is thought to aid rehabilitation by providing a deterrent to drinking and a positive reinforcement to sobriety. It permits offenders to remain employed, to fulfill family obligations, and to remain in treatment.

Judges may be less familiar with transdermal methods that monitor alcohol through the skin than with blood, breath, or urine testing. There are two transdermal measuring devices— the Wrist Transdermal Alcohol Sensor (WrisTAS) by Giner, Inc., and the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) bracelet by Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. The former device, though clinically tested, is not yet commercially available perhaps because it is not yet sufficiently water or tamper resistant.

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