New CAM Technology Helps Keep Drunk Drivers off the Road
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — By year’s end more defendants in the North Carolina court system may be wearing alcohol monitoring anklets instead of jail jumpsuits — at least that is the goal of a new law approved by the General Assembly on Tuesday that broadens judges’ leeway in ordering the use of the devices.
Discussed and debated thoroughly during the spring of 2011, House Bill 494 — Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) Law Changes — finally made it to the Senate floor this week where it was approved unanimously. The House concurred, 113 to 5.
According to the law, a judge may include as a condition of pretrial release that a defendant abstain from alcohol consumption and use a CAM system so that if he violates the rule, the district attorney’s office is notified. If alcohol dependency or chronic abuse has been determined, a judge can order the use of CAM as part of probation conditions.
The law provides that fees for CAM, roughly $75 to install and $12/day for monitoring, paid by an offender on probation are to go directly to the monitoring provider, which is bound to continue the service until ordered to stop by the court. The waterproof and tamper resistant CAM anklets are worn all the time and perform some 48 alcohol tests per day. They detect traces of alcohol in a person’s perspiration and transmit data through a modem to a server accessible via the Web.
“We’re glad to see use of this technology expanded because it will help protect the public from drunken drivers and also may help some defendants who are struggling to escape alcohol’s grip to break free from their addiction,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Supported by the N.C. Sheriff’s Association as well as the Department of Corrections, the law will also allow judges to order the CAM devices for parents seeking custody or visitation with children if they believe that alcohol abuse is present.
“This is another way this tool can be used, to help protect children,” Dr. Creech said. “So often criminal behavior is a direct result of alcohol abuse, so anything that can be done to keep a defendant from using this substance to begin with can prevent him from getting in trouble and can help protect potential victims.”
The CAM devices are already in use in North Carolina as a part of DWI sentencing laws, but they have been limited to 60-day stints. This law extends the period of use and the circumstances for which CAM can be ordered.
The law is set to take effect Dec. 1.