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Ban on Alcohol-Monitoring Device Continues

North Carolina's drug treatment court advisory committee has once again voted to not allow the state's drug treatment courts to use alcohol-monitoring bracelets. The panel first imposed the ban on alcohol-monitoring bracelets in 2007. Last week, the panel's members voted again and decided to keep the ban in place.

Alcohol-monitoring bracelets are usually worn on the ankle and test the person's sweat for alcohol use every half-hour. Those ordered to wear the device must pay $12 a day to a private company. Across the nation, more than 140,000 offenders have been ordered to wear the device, which is designed to aid in the rehabilitation of repeat DWI offenders with addiction issues.

Members of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) have been vocal in their opposition to the use of alcohol-monitoring bracelets. The director of the AOC appoints the members of the state's drug treatment court advisory committee.

According to Gregg Stahl, AOC's senior deputy director, the devices are too expensive for many offenders and they are not capable of preventing offenders from driving drunk. Stahl believes that, if alcohol-monitoring technology is used, the devices should be state-owned and controlled. Also, the technology should be available regardless of the offender's ability to pay.

However, many are disappointed in the continuance of the ban. Mecklenburg Trial Court Administrator Todd Nuccio, said of the decision, "Apparently, there wasn't enough interest in finding a way to employ a proven tool that holds defendants accountable and protects the safety of our communities."

While the devices are banned in North Carolina's drug treatment courts, judges in other state courts can still use the alcohol-monitoring bracelets. However, there are other restrictions in the state. Under North Carolina law, judges are not allowed to place alcohol-monitoring devices on serious DWI offenders for more than 60 days. This provision is the only one of its kind nationally.

Source: CharlotteObserver.com "Panel reaffirms ban on alcohol testing tool" 9/23/10

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