Sarpy County Aims to Change Behavior of Multiple DUI Offenders

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

Multiple Offense DUI cases seem to be plaguing the system, however Sarpy County is taking technological steps to stop the cycle.

Last Wednesday, Bellevue Police stopped a man in the area of 19th and Chandler for speeding. Edward Scott, 45, was charged with third offense DUI, but it was actually his seventh offense since 1987.

Scott bonded out of jail, paying just $1,000. It was the needed 10 percent of the $10,000 bond the judge had set for him last week.

Sarpy County is still monitoring Scott, and other DUI offenders, even if they aren't behind bars.

"We want to give these people an opportunity to work, to provide for their families, to be out and assist in their defense, but primarily, we want to also be able to tell the community, hey we're doing what we can," said the Pretrial Services Director in Sarpy County, Danielle Richler.

Many counties have interlock devices, which go into vehicles and won't let it start if the person driving blows into the machine with any alcohol in their system, but since 2007, Sarpy County has used multiple technologies to monitor behavior.

One is a continuous alcohol monitor, an ankle bracelet which checks the level of alcohol through someone's skin. "It goes right on your skin, there's a little beam that measures, it takes a baseline reading," said Richler. "Anything that deviates from that reading, triggers an alarm."

For felony DUI, which is third offense or a BAC of .15 or greater, offenders are given the ankle bracelet.

In other cases, an in-home breathalyzer machine used. "The defendant inserts a straw into the machine, when it calls out to them, they blow into it," said Richler. "There's a camera which takes a picture of them, so we can verify the right person is blowing into the machine."

Richler said monitoring offenders at all times, not just while driving, helps change the behavior. "Ultimately they have to realize they have to make a change, but we're just there to kind of guide them along the way."

According to Sarpy County, felony DUI cases are on the rise. Sarpy County started using the continuous alcohol monitor in 2007. That year, seven people used the device. In 2012, the number of people rose to 195.

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