Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin has become the latest in a long list of jurisdictions to find benefit with sobriety monitoring programs that utilize the SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring device. Drunk driving has been rapidly increasing throughout Wisconsin. Judges, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies knew that something had to be done quickly. The Wisconsin legislature agreed passing a bill offering sobriety monitoring programs as an option for courts to reduce drunk driving offenses. Prior to passage of the bill, drunk driving offenders were required to install an ignition interlock device if their blood alcohol level was .15 or higher. The problem was that ignition interlock devices only addressed the problem of drinking and driving. The device only helps to keep people sober while they are on the road. It does not address the underlying issue of alcohol dependency and addiction. Sobriety Monitoring Programs which require a participant to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the monitoring period work to require complete sobriety. It is aimed at changing a person’s lifestyle, not just punishment for an alcohol-related offense.
Ignition Interlock devices were also extremely expensive costing $150 to install and $60 to $80 a month to maintain. Alcohol monitoring through the 24/7 Sobriety Program costs around $3 to $6 a day. Wisconsin is one of nearly 1600 jurisdictions to implement alternative programs to help address alcohol addiction. As with most other courts, Chippewa Falls and other courts throughout Wisconsin maintain discretion in how to handle a particular drunk driving case, but this offers another tool in their arsenal to defeat alcohol-related crimes or repeat offenses.