4.4 DWI Offender Monitoring
The most successful methods for controlling convicted DWI offenders and reducing recidivism have the common feature that they monitor offenders closely. Note that while these methods monitor sobriety, they do not actually prevent someone from drinking or driving the vehicle. Close monitoring can be accomplished at levels and in ways, including formal intensive supervision programs, home confinement with electronic monitoring, and dedicated detention facilities. South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project is one example of an intensive supervision program. Participants are usually offenders who must not use alcohol or drugs as conditions of remaining in the community and avoiding incarceration. The program includes twice-daily alcohol breath testing, transdermal devices that monitor alcohol consumption, and random drug testing. If offenders test positive for alcohol or drugs, they are taken into custody and appear before a judge within 24 hours. The goal of the program is to ensure that sanctions are swift and certain. South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project has been adopted in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.
For overviews of DWI offender monitoring and further references, see Century Council (2008) and Goodwin et al. (2005, Strategy D4). See also Wiliszowski et al. (2011) for more information about intensive supervision programs and descriptions of eight different programs, and Fisher et al. (2013) for additional details about South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project. Information about transdermal alcohol monitoring, including six case studies, can be found in McKnight et al. (2012). DWI courts and alcohol ignition interlocks discussed in this chapter’s Sections 3.1 and 4.2, also assist in monitoring offenders closely. Finally, guidelines for community supervision of DWI offenders are available from NHTSA (Dunlap et al., 2008).
Use: Little available data shows how extensively these programs are used. The most commonly used transdermal device is SCRAM (secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring). In 2011 approximately 50,000 people were monitored with SCRAM devices, roughly two-thirds of whom were DWI offenders (Fell & McKnight, 2013). In total, 49 States have used SCRAMs with at least some offenders, and 34 States have used SCRAMs with more than 1,000 offenders each (Fell & McKnight, 2013). The number of States using other types monitoring programs and devices is unknown.
Effectiveness: Intensive supervision, home confinement with electronic monitoring, and dedicated detention facilities all have been evaluated in individual settings and show substantial reductions in DWI recidivism. Studies examining the effectiveness of the 24/7 sobriety program in North and South Dakota have found reductions in recidivism for DWI convictions (Kilmer et al., 2013; Kubas et al., 2015; Loudenburg et al., 2010). South Dakota’s implementation of the 24/7 sobriety program resulted in a 12% decrease in repeat DWI arrests, and a 4% decrease in collisions by participants (Kilmer et al., 2013). North Dakota implementation resulted in a reduced number of crashes, non-DUI-related citations, and impaired driving arrests, while longer sentencing periods (1 year versus 60 days) appeared to have a stronger deterrent effect (Kubas et al., 2016). Continued enrollment in the North Dakota program was associated with significant decreases in recidivism after 60 days (29.7%), 1 year (34.2%), and 2 years (39.5%) (Kubas et al., 2017). In other studies recidivism was reduced by half in intensive supervision programs in Oregon (Lapham et al., 2006) and Connecticut (Barta et al., 2017), and by one-third in an electronic monitoring program in Los Angeles County (Brunson & Knighten, 2005; Jones et al., 1996). A dedicated detention facility in Baltimore County had a 4% recidivism rate 1 year after program completion, compared to a normal recidivism rate of 35% for offenders (Century Council, 2008).
A study in Nebraska and Wisconsin examined effectiveness of intensive supervision programs that used SCRAM to provide continuous monitoring of sobriety for drivers with alcohol-related offenses (Tison et al., 2015). Offenders assigned to SCRAM were matched to a control group of comparable offenders that were not assigned to SCRAM. Measured as re-arrests for an alcohol offense during the first 2 years following arrest, recidivism occurred at a slightly higher rate in the SCRAM group relative to the control group in both States (7.6% versus 6.2% in Wisconsin; 9.8% versus 7.7% in Nebraska, neither of which were statistically significant). However, a significant positive outcome was that there was virtually no recidivism while on SCRAM, and the SCRAM offenders who did recidivate remained compliant longer than offenders in the control group (360 versus 271 days in Wisconsin; 458 versus 333 days in Nebraska). The authors noted that the SCRAM population may represent a particularly high-risk group of offenders, thus higher long-term recidivism was expected.
Costs: All close monitoring programs are more expensive than the standard high-caseload and low-contact probation but less expensive than jail. Offenders in 24/7 programs typically pay $4 per day for breath testing, while electronic monitoring fees typically range from $5 to $10 per day (Fell & McKnight, 2013). SCRAM Systems’ 24/7 Sobriety Program Implementation Guide suggests a $2 fee per day for on-site breath testing and a $6 fee per day for remote electronic alcohol monitoring for participants (SCRAM Systems, 2018). One goal of 24/7 programs is to be self-sufficient (i.e., entirely funded by offenders). New Mexico estimated that intensive supervision costs $2,500 per offender per year compared to $27,500 per offender per year for jail (Century Council, 2008). Dedicated detention facility costs can approach jail costs: $37 per day in the Baltimore County dedicated detention facility compared to $45 per day for jail. Offenders can bear some program costs, especially for the less expensive alternatives.
Time to implement: All close monitoring programs require many months to plan and implement. Dedicated facilities require years to plan and build.