VIRGINIA BEACH- - Cities across Hampton Roads are letting lower level DUI offenders out of jail with alcohol monitoring bracelets. It's a trend that's helping ease the burden on overcrowded jails and saving taxpayer money.
In the past year and a half, judges in Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach have issued about 150 SCRAM bracelets. They track alcohol usage through perspiration. It updates every 30 minutes and sends updates daily to the vendor, who informs law enforcement of any discrepancies.
Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant says he encourages prosecutors to ask judges to use the bracelets for lower level offenders.
"It saves us time and money. It saves the sheriff's office time and money," said Bryant.
Each offender has to pay anywhere from $12 to $17 a day to wear the bracelet.
Tidewater Alcohol Monitoring Systems manages the bracelets here and estimates the cities have saved about $1.2 million by keeping offenders out of jails.
"It places the burden exactly where it belongs on the offender," said Ken Marshall of Tidewater Alcohol Monitoring Systems.
Marshall says he is trying to work with sheriff's offices to see if any small scale grants are available to offenders who may not be able to afford wearing the bracelet.