Cars May Soon Determine if You’ve Had Too Much to Drink

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Shortly after consuming that last drink, you choose to get
in your car and drive home. Unwise as that decision may be, it’s yours to make.
Soon, that decision may be made for you—by your car.

With more than 10,000 lives and $44 billion lost as a result of drunk driving each year, private car companies and public safety agencies are implementing new technological innovations in an effort to curb drunk driving. The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), which includes two technological approaches to assess driver impairment, may be available within the next year. Carmaker Volvo hopes to end fatalities with in-car cameras standard on all new models starting in the early 2020s. 

DADSS—Measuring Breath and BAC

The DADSS research program is a collaboration between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), representing automakers and The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), a federal institution committed to reducing injuries and economic costs related to traffic crashes.  

In development since
2008, the DADSS collaboration leaders say that portions of
their systems will be ready for use in new commercial fleet vehicles in 2020
after extensive use in both public and private fleets in 2018 and 2019. 

The DADSS takes two
different technological approaches to prevent drunk driving: 

The breath-based system is designed to take readings as the driver breathes normally while
distinguishing between the driver’s breath and that of any passengers. 

Breath-based system model. Image courtesy of  DADSS.org

The touch-based system, located in the start button or steering wheel, will measure BAC levels with infrared light directed into the driver’s fingertip.

The DADSS system would not allow the device-enabled car to
start if the breath or the touch system fails. 

To enter the market the DADSS systems must not adversely affect sober drivers and require little maintenance or owner involvement. Will the DADDS technology prevent or deter impaired driving while meeting consumer needs and lasting for the lifetime of the vehicle? Will these devices be tamper-proof, reliable, and effectively prevent impaired driving? 

Volvo’s Sensory Approach to Drunk Driving

Volvo announced in March 2019 that starting in the early 2020s all next-generation cars of specific models would be equipped with in-car cameras that will be able to see and feel driver behavior that may be linked to impaired-driving from intoxication. The cars will sense behavior such as distracted driving, slow reaction times, and excessive weaving.  

If such behavior is detected, the system will intervene with
a call to Volvo’s on-call assistance service, limiting the car’s speed, or even
actively taking control of the car and bringing it to a stop. 

Intoxication Distraction Intervention system model. Video courtesy of Volvo

When this advanced software system detects impaired driving,
what will be the consequences for the impaired driver, if any? As a private
entity, the Volvo company is not authorized to make an arrest. Will the on-call
service contact local law enforcement? Perhaps the impaired, informed driver
will get to determine their level of impairment and what to do about it. 

Both of these new technologies will be available only in new cars, not for installation or adaption to vehicles already on the road. The life-saving potential of these technologies may be lost in the statistics: One study has estimated that there were 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes in 2010. In that same year, only 11.5 million new cars and trucks were sold.

What do you think of the ability of these new technologies
to limit drunk driving—will they act as a deterrent to getting behind the
wheel, or stop impaired driving once you’re on the road? Will they have any effect
at all? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Securus Monitoring Solutions Introduces New Dual-Carrier Technology

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Minimizes Gaps in Cellular Networks for Electronic Monitoring Programs

Houston, TX June 18, 2019/PRNewswire/ — Securus Monitoring Solutions, a Satellite Tracking of People LLC (STOP) company, one of the largest providers of active GPS-based offender monitoring devices in the United States, has once again caused a seismic shift in the electronic monitoring space with the addition of new dual-carrier technology in its flagship GPS devices. The first of its kind in the industry, dual-carrier technology helps minimize the impact of cellular dead zones on electronic monitoring programs nationwide.

This technology is specifically designed to eliminate the problems caused by coverage gaps that exist in some of the nation’s largest cellular networks. Initially integrated into the company’s BLUtag® and BLU+® single-piece GPS devices, this ingenious technology automatically switches between AT&T® and Verizon® cellular networks on the fly to provide reliable, seamless coverage of enrollees as they go about their day-to-day activities. This game-changing technology allows supervising officers to focus on managing their caseload instead of dealing with notification headaches caused by drops in cellular network coverage. No other company in the electronic monitoring industry offers this powerful capability from a single device.

Prior to making the technology available nationwide, the company conducted a six-month pilot program with 20 electronic monitoring programs from a diverse range of rural and urban locations across the United States. Each program reported dramatic reductions—as high as forty percent in some cases—in the number tracking alerts caused by drops in cellular coverage. Those reductions equate to hundreds of man-hours recouped for those programs.

“Gaps in cellular networks can dramatically hinder on our customer’s ability to effectively monitor the activities of the participants enrolled in an electronic monitoring program,” said Jon Secrest, General Manager for Securus Monitoring Solutions. “By significantly reducing the impact of those gaps, our dual-carrier technology allows our customers to consistently track the movements of the participants they monitor. This is a significant step forward in the evolution of electronic monitoring solutions.”

About Securus Monitoring Solutions
Founded in 2004, Securus Monitoring Solutions, a Satellite Tracking of People LLC Company is headquartered in Houston, Texas and is one of the largest providers of active GPS-based offender monitoring devices and services in the United States. Securus Monitoring Solutions has over 600 customers in 43 States and the District of Columbia, and also operates in several international markets. For more information, please visit the Securus Monitoring Solutions website at https://stopllc.com or www.securustechnologies.com/monitoring.

About Securus Technologies
Securus Technologies, Inc. is one of the largest providers of detainee communications and information management solutions, serving approximately 2,300 correctional facilities in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and Mexico, and more than 900,000 inmates nationwide. A recognized leader in providing comprehensive, innovative technical solutions and responsive customer service, Securus’ sole focus is the specialized needs of the corrections and law enforcement communities. Securus is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, including four regional offices in the Dallas metro area as well as one in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, please visit the Securus website at www.securustechnologies.com.


Chris McDowell
(512) 515-1405

The post Securus Monitoring Solutions Introduces New Dual-Carrier Technology appeared first on stopllc.com.

Survey Shows Americans Favor Alternative Ways to Combat Drunk Driving

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In recent years, progress on reducing the number of drunk driving deaths has seemingly stalled. Alcohol-impaired driving consistently accounts for approximately a third of all traffic fatalities. In 2017 that translated to 10,874 fatalities from crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher. 

While there is no silver bullet to address drunk driving, critics suggest more could be done to make America’s roads safer. A recent survey by NORC at the University of Chicago, sponsored by the National Safety Council, asked U.S. drivers about their support for some underutilized traffic-safety strategies. In relation to drunk driving, the survey asked about attitudes toward lowering the legal BAC limit for drivers, use of sobriety checkpoints, and alternative sanctions for repeat DWI offenders. 

Each respondent was given background information and research statistics on the strategies they would be evaluating so they could make informed judgments. Respondents were largely in favor of these strategies, with especially strong support for the measures to keep alcohol-impaired individuals from driving and to keep DUI offenders sober.  

1. Sobriety Checkpoints 

Decades of research has proven that checkpoints are highly effective in deterring drinking and driving. Widespread use of sobriety checkpoints could reduce fatalities by at least 8%. Adding passive alcohol sensors at checkpoints to detect alcohol-impaired drivers would increase detection by 50%. Only 12 states conduct sobriety checkpoints on a weekly basis, and several states have laws prohibiting the use of checkpoints.  

Almost a third of the survey respondents said that checkpoints
should be conducted every weekend in their community, with 64.7% of the respondents in favor of monthly
checkpoints. Of those surveyed, 68.2% were
in favor of police using passive alcohol sensors at sobriety checkpoints to
increase detection and enforcement. 

From Underutilized Strategies in Traffic Safety: Results of a Nationally Representative Survey

2. Ignition Interlocks and Alcohol Monitoring Anklets

All 50 states
have some form of alcohol ignition interlock device laws, and installation of
the interlocks can reduce repeat offenses by approximately 70% while the
devices are installed. As such, it is not surprising that more than 80% of survey respondents favored
requiring all convicted DWI offenders to install an ignition interlock device
in their vehicles.

From Underutilized Strategies in Traffic Safety: Results of a Nationally Representative Survey

However, on average only about one-fifth of eligible offenders actually install the device on their car. In response, 71.9% of those surveyed were in favor of alternative sanctions—such as house arrest or required abstinence with an alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet—for convicted DWI offenders who refuse ignition interlock devices. Monitored sobriety has been shown to support long-term behavior change in repeat and hardcore drunk drivers—the individuals most likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

3. Lower Blood Alcohol Limit

Currently, 49 states have a BAC limit of .08, despite the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation that all states reduce the legal BAC to 0.05. Several states such as New York, California, and Michigan are considering .05 legislation, but only one state, Utah, has a legal BAC limit of .05.

Three-quarters of those surveyed said they had heard of BAC limits for driving and thought that drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher were a danger. When asked if they thought the BAC limit should be lowered to .05 in their state if the penalty would not be criminal but administrative such as a fine or license suspension, more than 57.5% were in favor. 

Life-Saving Changes

None of these strategies have been widely implemented in the United States. This may be because of the public’s lack of knowledge of their effectiveness, and subsequently the lack of push to implement them. Along with current traffic safety enforcement measures, it is projected that putting these strategies into practice could significantly reduce traffic fatalities if implemented widely across the United States.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Infographic: Prom and Underage Drinking

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Spring has arrived, the end of the school year is in sight, and prom festivities are taking place. These joy-filled celebrations too often include alcohol and the accompanying perils of underage drinking and driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in three alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occurred during the prom season, from April to June. 

Encourage the young people in your life to
avoid alcohol use and drunk driving during this special time in their lives.
Spread the word about the dangers of underage drinking with the statistics
featured in this infographic and increase awareness of the dangerous
consequences of underage
drunk driving

Infographic of prom, underage drinking, and the consequences.
Download PDF

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Copy and paste the following text to display this infographic on your blog or website:

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DUI Checkpoints: Advertise or Surprise?

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The goal of DUI checkpoints is primarily deterrence: to raise the perceived risk of arrest, and secondarily to enforce drunk and impaired driving laws. Checkpoint information such as location and time is often highly publicized in the targeted areas using High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) tactics to promote compliance with the law. But, not all agencies and organizations agree with distributing details about sobriety checkpoints as it may enable potentially impaired drivers to avoid the targeted area. For these reasons, there is some debate over the best approach to checkpoints: Advertise or Surprise?

Publicized DUI Checkpoints: A Deterrent?

One argument for disclosing location is to protect the agency conducting the checkpoint. Checkpoints were deemed legal and constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1990; however, publicly announcing them in advance limits their intrusion into people’s lives thus avoiding the possibility of a Fourth Amendment unlawful search issue arising.  

Several national
agencies strongly recommend the use and publicizing of sobriety checkpoints.

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also recommends spreading the word about checkpoints to increase the perceived risk of getting caught, thus deterring impaired drivers and adding to the overall efficacy of the use of sobriety checkpoints. 
  • A Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) review of studies evaluated the impact of publicized sobriety checkpoints. Six studies showed an increase ranging from 4 to 32% in the percentage of people in the targeted communities exposed to the “Don’t Drink and Drive” message. 
  • The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine in a 2018 report writes “States and localities should conduct frequent sobriety checkpoints in conjunction with widespread publicity to promote awareness of these enforcement initiatives.” 

State Drunk Driving Laws Search Tool

Are Unannounced DUI Checkpoints Easily Avoidable? 

Historically, law enforcement agencies have preferred the “surprise” strategy for DUI checkpoints. Like many officers, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Anaya feels that notifying the public about checkpoints may allow illegal drivers to detour around them. “By providing notice to the public, those that are breaking the law are given the opportunity to potentially avoid a checkpoint.” Missouri Representative Scott Fitzpatrick felt so strongly that checkpoints are too easy for drunk drivers to avoid that he sponsored and passed a bill effectively eliminating their use in that state.

Even if a sobriety checkpoint is a non-publicized surprise, drivers may still be able to prepare in advance. The Fair DUI Flyer works on the premise that most states have not outlined exactly what standard of cooperation or adherence is required at checkpoints. This simple state-law specific flyer is placed by the driver in their window from the inside as they enter the checkpoint. The flyer shows the applicable law by which the driver is not required to show ID, speak with law enforcement, or even open their window. 

The crucial element of surprise for sobriety checkpoints was threatened by technology almost a decade ago, and again recently. In 2011 a group of U.S. Senators wrote a letter to smartphone companies asking them to ban apps that would identify drunk driving checkpoints. Several companies complied with the request. With the rise of Waze, a GPS navigation app that alerts users to traffic issues and police presence, a letter has again been written. New York City police in early February 2019 sent a letter to Google, the app’s parent company, stating that people who post the locations of sobriety checkpoints may be “engaging in criminal conduct”. Echoing the sentiment of the pro-publicizing checkpoint camp, Waze stated that identifying police locations promoted road safety because drivers were made aware and modified their behaviors.  

Should sobriety checkpoints be publicized or kept undisclosed? Share your thoughts below.  

6 Unexpected Ways to Get a DUI

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We’ve all read the frequent headlines about drunk driving crashes on highways and residential streets, in urban and rural areas, at excessive speeds and even driving well below the speed limit. A DUI arrest is not limited, however, to operating a car on a designated public road. 

Each state determines the legality or criminality of where you are and what you are doing when you are behind a wheel with alcohol in your system. We’ve taken a look at six of the more surprising ways you can receive a DUI in a variety of states.  

State Drunk Driving Laws Search Tool

1. Drunk Driving While Operating a Tractor 

The Arkansas House has recently approved legislation containing a new definition of “motor vehicle” that includes farm equipment such as tractors. A portion of the bill clarifies that operators of farm equipment involved in near-fatal or fatal driving incidents must have their blood alcohol content (BAC) checked just as an automobile driver would. The bill will be known as “Jacob’s Law” after the Arkansas man killed in an alcohol-related farming crash.

2. A DUI While Your Car is Parked

In many states it is possible to be charged with a DUI without actually moving your vehicle. Laws in these states declare it is illegal not only to drive a vehicle under the influence but also to be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle in a state of impairment. This Florida man was arrested on just such an offense, as was this Missouri lawyer. These laws also apply to intoxicated drivers who moved into the passenger seat or the back seat of the car they were operating. 

3. Driving Drunk on Private Property

West Virginia Supreme Court determined that anyone driving while intoxicated,
whether on public or private lands, can be charged with drunk driving. 

“The legislature chose to structure our DUI statutes to regulate the condition of the driver, not the locale in which the driving is taking place,” Justice Ketchum wrote. “Thus, the legislature expressed its plain intent to prohibit an intoxicated person from driving a vehicle anywhere in West Virginia, whether on public roads or across private land.” This precedent could be overturned with new legislation reaching the West Virginia legislature in 2019. 

4. Driving With (legal) Open Containers of Alcohol  

Mississippi is the only state in the nation without a law against open containers in a vehicle. Technically this lack of a prohibition does not mean that drinking and driving is legal. A driver could be in possession of any number of containers of alcohol, but they still cannot drink while driving, and they must maintain a BAC under .08. 

5. Don’t Drink and Ride a Bike in these States

More than 20 states have laws that allow for charging a drunken bicyclist with a DUI. Of the remaining states, many have laws that can be applied depending on where the bicyclist is riding. This Colorado woman was charged with a DUI after she damaged a car while riding her bicycle. North Dakota recently exempted bicycles and horses from state DUI laws, while South Dakota will charge a DUI not only to those operating a bicycle, but also anyone operating a tractor, horse, lawnmower or golf cart while under the influence.

6. Operating Watercraft Under the Influence

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a state law nationwide. In several states not only does this charge apply to the intoxicated driver of any type of vessel such as a boat or jet-ski, but also includes operators of water skis, kneeboards, wakeboards, and similar non-motorized recreational watercraft.  

Laws on drinking and driving exist for a reason—to keep people safe. Driving while impaired by alcohol slows reflexes, reaction time, and physical coordination. In a car or on a bicycle, on private property or on public waterways, driving under the influence of alcohol is always dangerous.

What surprising and unexpected ways to get a DUI have you read about? 

Veterans Treatment Court Act Funds Supportive Alternatives

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Veterans treatment courts (VTCs) are one of the fastest growing specialty court types in the U.S.; there are now more than 551 VTCs nationwide. Recent legislation will fund support staff at these alternative courts to assist veterans on their road to recovery.

Veterans Treatment Courts Increase Assistance

This fall, the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018 was signed into law, increasing services for veterans impacted by the justice system.

This act enhances the ability of Treatment courts to serve veterans; the VA will be required to place 50 additional Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists at VA Medical Centers. These specialists will serve as part of a team in a VTC. VJO Specialists currently serve in 551 Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) and other Veteran focused court programs across the U.S.

Veterans Treatment Courts and VJO specialists serve veterans who are or will soon be, part of the criminal justice system. The goal is to reduce recidivism among veterans by connecting participants to treatment services such as alcohol and drug counseling, rather than serving jail time. VJOs work directly with the courts to create treatment plans to address the reasons behind the criminal behavior of veteran offenders, many of whom are living with substance abuse problems.

Alcohol Abuse and Criminal Consequences On the Rise for U.S. Veterans

The VJO Specialist and court-ordered treatment programs address underlying issues like alcohol abuse and drug abuse, problems on the rise in the veteran population:

Alcohol abuse and related criminal activity is a growing problem for some veterans. There has been a significant increase in binge drinking in male veterans, with two times the increase for female veterans. Drinking more is connected to more drinking and driving and the veteran population has seen an increase in drunk driving of almost 60% since 2014.  “There’s no denying that American veterans contribute to the nationwide epidemic of drunk driving,” a study by the American Addiction Centers concludes.

Veteran Treatment Courts are continuing to open across the nation; criminal justice reform legislation is ushering in options outside of standard sentencing and incarceration. Soon, alternative courts with increased funding and enhanced support services for veterans may become the norm.

Alcohol & Drunk Driving Trends: A 2018 Retrospective

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In the spirit of the new year ahead, we have decided to look back at some of the 2018 trends surrounding drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice.

Problem Drinking & Driving

It’s no secret that impaired driving is a widespread issue, but drinking and driving in certain age groups has its own set of dangers. For example, underage drivers are responsible for 17% of fatal alcohol-involved crashes and over one-third of fatal traffic crashes among young adults aged 16–20 involve alcohol. With drivers under the age of 21 representing 10% of licensed drivers in the U.S., these statistics are quite sobering.

The risks of drunk driving aren’t only more pronounced in teenage drivers, but also senior citizens. Older people are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, and adults aged 65 and older tend to binge drink more often than other age groups. With even one drink being enough to impair driving skills in older people, the dangers of drinking and driving extend to the 40 million licensed drivers over the age of 64.

Promising Policies and Legislation

As the impacts of alcohol-involved fatalities and drunk driving become more prevalent, new legislation and policies are being put in place to help combat this issue.

For example, with the growing problem of college binge drinking and subsequent deaths, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), representing over 6,100 chapters across 800 college campuses, has banned hard alcohol at all fraternity houses and events. Even students 21 and older will not be exempt from the new policy unless the alcohol is being controlled and served by a licensed third-party vendor.

On a larger legislative scale, Utah is the first state in the nation to lower the legal driving BAC from .08 to .05. With several other states considering the .05 legislation, researchers estimate that if every state were to adopt the lower BAC limit, it could potentially save 1,790 lives a year that would otherwise be lost to drunk driving incidents.

Alcohol Monitoring Programs Seeing Success, Gaining Traction

New laws and policies aren’t the only way jurisdictions across the country are addressing the issue of drunk driving. To help reduce DUIs, a number of jurisdictions are implementing alcohol monitoring programs that use a variety of technologies to supervise drunk driving offenders.

Earlier this year, the Honorable Judge John S. Kennedy retired after serving 22 years on the bench and building a highly successful alcohol monitoring program in York County, Pennsylvania. The Target 25 Program targets repeat drunk driving offenders, requiring pretrial supervision using alcohol monitoring. Not only is the program seeing continued success since its inception in 2012, but also helped reduce the number of same-year repeat DUI offenders by 90%.

Alcohol monitoring pilot programs are also gaining traction across the pond. Between 2006 and 2016, an estimated 9,050 people in Great Britain were killed or injured as a result of alcohol-involved crashes. But pilot programs using “sobriety tags” or continuous alcohol monitoring bracelets, are emerging across the country as areas around the UK are recognizing the impact of drunk driving. One such program in Northwest England saw a 92% sobriety rate in people wearing the tag and continues to gain traction as more areas consider their own alcohol monitoring programs.

What other trends in drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice have you noticed this past year?


Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Study Examines Drinking Locations and Drunk Driving

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The Prevention Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) has released a new study focused on a less researched aspect of drinking and driving behavior—the location where the drinking event took place before drinkers get behind the wheel and drive.

Where Have We Been When We Drink and Drive?

The study sought to uncover how different drinking contexts relate to the risk of alcohol-impaired driving and driving after drinking. A sampling of 8,553 adults across California revealed people drink most frequently in their own homes, followed by a friend’s or relative’s house. The classic “drinking in a bar” fell to the bottom of the list of frequent drinking locations.

Of the adults surveyed, more than half reported drinking at some time in the past year, with the majority of those drinking occasions taking place at home. Imbibing at home was associated with more frequent drinking, while consuming alcohol in other venues, such as bars and restaurants, was less frequent but more likely to lead to getting behind the wheel after drinking.

The study reaffirms that drinking outside the home correlates to higher rates of drinking and driving. However, the research also reveals that a substantial source of impaired drivers may be those frequent drinkers who only infrequently drive after drinking.

More Drinking = More Drinking and Driving

The research reveals new findings on the “place of last drink,” showing that greater drinking frequencies, regardless of place, are always related to greater rates of drunk driving, whether the drinking event is in one’s own home, at other’s homes, or at house parties.

Infographic of six month period drinking location

Researchers have upheld the common knowledge that drinking at bars often leads to alcohol-impaired and drunk driving while noting that the study’s findings coincide with other studies on place-of-last-drink. These earlier findings show that alcohol-impaired driving events may also be widely distributed across residential areas. Study findings indicate approximately half the number of persons arrested for drunken driving were drinking in a private residence before their arrest.

Preloading and Prevention

There is a need for more detailed research on drinking location and how it relates to drinking and driving, and to what extent “preloading” at home may continue into a drinking event outside of the home. As recent research has shown and recent news stories have highlighted, further study may aid in prevention efforts.

The results of this latest study suggest that new programs to reduce alcohol-impaired driving should start with focused, community-based prevention programs. Where drinking takes place is fixed for most drinkers—drinkers drink where they feel welcome and comfortable. We may see a significant reduction in alcohol-impaired driving if anti-drunk driving programs include the risks of driving after drinking at home in their messaging.


Work-release inmate arrested on “pot” charge

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Work-release inmate arrested on “pot” charge

Click here to read a story about a work release-eligible inmate in the Fauquier County jail who was arrested for possessing marijuana in order to sell it. The inmate was monitored with a GPS monitoring device.

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