LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving said studies show that nearly one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.
But, a new app being used by the Faulkner County DWI court is aiming to help change that. It’s a monitoring program for repeat DWI offenders called Check BAC. Faulkner County Judge Susan Weaver said the app is a new type of technology, totally changing how DWI monitoring works.
“It allows us not only to have them randomly breathalyzed throughout the day every day that they have the system, but it also gives us an opportunity to look at the person, their background, and what’s happening around them,” said Weaver.
The app’s video and audio recording capability is much different than the current monitoring used in many DWI courts.
“We can see what the environment is like around you, what your demeanor is, what you’re looking like, what your behavior is,” said Weaver. “It gives us a lot more personal information versus the SCRAM monitor that just lets us know if there is any alcohol in your system.”
Here’s how it works. Every three hours individuals in the program will get on their app and conduct a Bluetooth breathalyzer test. Sometimes there are other random tests throughout the day, as well. Once the breathalyzer is completed, the blood alcohol level and video are sent to monitoring systems. If an individual has any alcohol in their system, they could be arrested.
Probation Officer Darrick Simmons recommends the app and said it's a better way of accountability to help end repeat offenses and potentially, some cases of alcoholism.
“It’s a major improvement, the cost is cheaper, and it’s more effective,” said Simmons.
Teresa Bellew, volunteer media and policy liaison with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the new technology is a game changer.
“We see that this technology is another great tool for the most risky offenders among us who are the repeat offending drivers,” said Bellew. “I am hopeful that it will continue to be expanded in other DWI courts across the state.”
As part of Faulkner County DWI court, repeat DWI offenders voluntarily stay on check b-a-c monitoring for 90-120 days and also participate in various community service and alcohol treatment programs as opposed to serving additional jailtime.
“We are trying to take a different approach at fixing the problem rather than just punishing something that’s not fixing it,” said Weaver.
Judge Weaver said their ultimate goal is to keep people safe, out of jail, and help people with alcohol problems get a lead on life.