CHARLOTTE, N.C./PRNewswire/ (re-print) — One of North Carolina’s most notable legislative efforts this year went info effect December 1, essentially expanding sanctions and monitoring requirements for repeat drunk drivers.
Laura’s Law, named after teenager Laura Fortenberry, who was killed by a three-time convicted drunk driver, originally was signed in to law in 2011. In July 2012, state lawmakers tackled some administrative items in the language of the law that streamlined the ability of officials to fully integrate Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) into both pretrial and probation requirements.
In addition to use on high-risk drunk drivers, the bracelets can also be used on parents seeking custody or visitation with children if a judge believes alcohol misuse is at issue.
To-date 1,400 CAM devices, known as SCRAM, have been used on offenders as part of the state’s DWI sentencing laws. According to Steve Parker, a regional manager for Alcohol Monitoring Systems, the company that makes SCRAM, Laura’s Law essentially extends the period of use, previously limited to 60 days, and expands the types of cases for which CAM can be ordered. “This level of monitoring not only helps courts increase community safety from the highest-risk drivers on the road, it also can help individuals who are struggling with addiction to change course, and even exit the revolving door of the criminal justice system,” says Parker.
According to The Century Council, 98 percent of Hardcore Drunk Drivers have a current or past issue with alcohol abuse. And 75 percent are assessed as being alcohol-dependent.
SCRAM includes an ankle bracelet, worn 24/7, that tests perspiration 48 times a day to measure for alcohol consumption. According to AMS, 99.4% of the offenders in North Carolina they’ve monitored each day have a completely Sober Day. “That means no drinking, and no drinking and driving,” says Parker.
Parker, along with AMS service providers across the state who help manage SCRAM programs at the local level, has been working closely with North Carolina Department of Public Safety officials since July to implement a streamlined referral and reporting process statewide. According to Parker, the CAM program is offender-pay, meaning the offenders themselves pay all or a significant portion of the daily fee. “Each of our service providers works with officials in their location to facilitate the monitoring and to provide appropriate support for qualifying offenders who may be unable to pay for their monitoring,” says Parker.
The new law took effect just as President Obama signed a decree officially calling December Impaired Driving Prevention Month, designed to heighten awareness of drunk driving, particularly during the dangerous holiday season.