HONOLULU (KHON2) — Authorities are now using ankle monitors that can tell whether users are drinking. If the monitor senses alcohol, the users are going to jail.
The program, also known as SCRAM, is given out to people who have been charged with habitual driving under the influence (DUI). It started in 2019.
“The ultimate purpose is public safety, of course. You’re a habitual DUI. You have problem, and we don’t want you out drinking and driving and possibly causing a death,” said Dwight Nadamoto, Acting Prosecuting Attorney.
Users are court-ordered into the program by the judge. As a condition of their bail, they agree not to drink alcohol. Also, while using the ankle monitoring device, they have to pay for it. Price can range from $10 to $20 a day for people in the program.
So far 13 people on Oahu have joined the the program. Eight have completed it, and Five are currently on it right now.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said so far, no one has tested positive for alcohol while wearing the device.
Given it’s success, Nadamoto said he wants to expand the program.
“In 2020 we’ll be asking for SCRAM again. We’ll be asking for it when appropriate for habitual DUI’s and for a person who has picked up a second DUI arrest or is charged with a second DUI,” said Nadamoto. “So, we’re asking for scram before it becomes habitual too.”
However, there are some drawbacks to the program. The initial period is only 90 days, though that can be extended.
Also, the ankle monitors can’t physically stop someone from driving drunk, like the ignition interlock system, which locks off a car if the person’s been drinking.
However, Nadamoto said he believes, in some ways, the monitoring system is better because it can keep better track of if a person drinks.
“It is a tool, in the sense, that is better than ignition interlock because that’s just for that particular car. That a person can’t drive drunk and operate that car. SCRAM travels with the person,” said Nadamoto.
Nadamoto also said the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will be backing multiple bills coming up in the legislature. This includes a bill to lower the blood alcohol level at which you can be arrested down from .08 to .05. Another bill seeks to increase jail time and fines for a second habitual DUI.
“We want the public to know that the office is taking you guys seriously,” said Nadamoto. “It’s not something that people, you know, joke about. It is a serious offense and it can cause serious bodily injury and even death, and it should be taken seriously.”