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Pennsylvania County Taking Steps to Reduce Drunk Drivers

Authorities are seemingly constantly examining ways to make penalties more severe for drunk drivers, especially those that are repeat DUI offenders. Whether it is increased jail time or a longer license suspension, officials are being serious about cracking down on the problem.

York County is taking additional steps toward trying to eliminate the number of repeat DUI offenders. The county makes those who are facing a second, third or higher drunk driving charge wear an alcohol detection ankle bracelet as part of the individual's bail.

Commonly referred to as SCRAMs (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), the bracelets have been used in several places throughout the country. Currently, within York County, there are 395 people who have active SCRAM devices. There have been 45 reports of individuals wearing the devices drinking alcohol, as well as two DUIs.

The costs of the bracelets, which can run about $300 a month, are the suspect's responsibility. However, some offenders may have difficult financial situations, making the bracelet a financial hardship. These individuals may be forced to pick from paying their bills or staying in jail.

Critics of this program feel that it unfairly punishes those who have not yet had their day in court. Since it is part of bail, if an individual wants to be free while awaiting his or her court date, he or she must agree to the bracelet. Those in favor of the program say it allows law enforcement to keep track of the behavior of repeat DUI offenders who are awaiting trial.

This is the first year of the program being used inside York County. Officials will be examining the numbers at the end of the year. If the program proves to be successful, there may be a push to use it in more counties in Pennsylvania.

Source: York Daily Record "York County works to cut DUIs by issuing alcohol-monitoring bracelets" July 28, 2012.

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