Electronic Monitoring as Alternative Sentencing for DUI/DWI

Electronic Monitoring as Alternative Sentencing for DUI/DWI

Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) can result in harsh penalties in the form of mandatory prison sentences and license suspensions. However, there are sentencing alternatives. One such alternative is electronic monitoring. Studies have found numerous societal benefits to electronic monitoring, including treatment and rehabilitation for the defendant, an easing of the overcrowded and overburdened jail systems, and lowered recidivism rates. Moreover, the cost savings to the local government has proven significant, saving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in jail costs.

The cost of being on an electronic monitoring program varies, and is usually paid for by the offender. Because it is feasible for the offender to continue to work during daytime hours, while being confined at night, the offender is often able to cover the cost of nighttime monitoring, while also continuing to provide for family members.

There are many different programs and companies that are licensed to provide electronic monitoring. The monitoring provides surveillance of the offender's presence within the immediate vicinity of an assigned area detailed by the supervising agency. The person is also subject to precise curfews and schedules. Some devices attach to the wrist, others to the ankle, and may include a GPS tracking unit worn when the offender leaves home. A base station may also be installed in the offender's home. Some devices relay a continuous signal to a computer at the probation offices or at the manufacturer's central monitoring computer. The offender is also required to respond to random phone calls.

DWI/DUI offenders may be required to have certain monitoring add-ons, such as breath-testing devices. These alcohol monitors enable probation offices to ensure that offenders are complying with court orders to abstain from alcohol consumption as a condition of sentencing and probation. The device is attached to the offender's ankle and monitors the offender's blood alcohol level by measuring ethanol vapor as it migrates through the surface of the skin. The device is designed to detect and record any tampering or attempts to remove it. A modem communicates test results from the subject's home to an Internet-based central monitoring station, which provides supervising parties with constant access to the alcohol readings of each subject. Typically, DWI/DUI offenders subject to this condition of home arrest must submit to multiple tests per day. Voice recognition devices also ensure that the offender is the person taking the test.

Electronic monitoring is essentially on house arrest; the offender must remain at home except for court appearances, court-ordered education classes, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and other essential travel such as a job. Time spent on house arrest is usually credited against a jail sentence on a day-for-day basis.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.