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New program uses alcohol-sensing anklets to fight DUIs

WAUKEGAN – With nearly 1,800 DUI arrests in 2016, Lake County has the fourth-highest rate of drunken driving in Illinois, and high-risk DUI offenders account for up to a third of those arrests.

Now, to improve public safety and reduce repeat offenses, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office has launched a program that will monitor high-risk offenders around the clock to ensure they aren’t drinking, according to a news release.

As a condition of bond, drunken driving offenders who cause a crash with serious injuries, those with multiple DUIs, and those who are arrested with a high BAC will be required to stay sober and wear a high-tech anklet that monitors them for drinking 24/7.

Post-conviction, these offenders can be sentenced to monitored sobriety for up to 180 days. The program also is set up to address other offenses, such as domestic violence and assault, in which alcohol played a contributing role.

Offenders are responsible for the costs of their monitoring, which allows them to maintain their employment and family commitments while ensuring they aren’t drinking. 

“When we separate these offenders from alcohol, we know they aren’t going to be out drinking and driving or committing other alcohol-involved crimes,” Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim said in the release. “We are targeting the root cause of these problems, saving taxpayers’ money and giving these offenders the chance to get sober and get their lives back on track.”

Known as SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring, the anklet tests the wearer’s perspiration every 30 minutes for alcohol consumption. The technology has been used to monitor 620,000 high-risk DUI offenders around the country and more than 12,500 people in Illinois.

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