Electronic Home Monitoring in Minnesota

One of the most common conditions of a sentence in a DWI case is being ordered on electronic home monitoring (EHM) in lieu of serving time in jail. The benefit is obvious: the defendant does not have to serve time in jail. But, there are steep and hidden costs that come along with this benefit.

First, every electronic home monitoring participant is required to wear an ankle bracelet 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. This means the participant is wearing it while showering, at work, at church, and while sleeping. And as you might expect, it is not exactly the easiest thing to hide.

Second, there is a daily fee (at least in Hennepin County) for being on home monitoring. In Hennepin County, this fee is $16 per day. And it must be paid weekly. This can add up quickly. For instance, someone facing a 2nd Degree DWI faces 30 days in custody and 60 days on EHM. Those 60-days amount to a fee total of $960.00. This is a hidden fee that is often unknown to the participant until it is too late and he or she is already in the program.

Third, the participant is on a strict schedule and only has 4-hours per week for personal time (after all, this is house-arrest). Still, this can be difficult for a participant that needs to attend frequent medical or treatment appointments, or even AA meetings. The participant must provide documented proof that he or she was at the scheduled appointment or meeting.

Fourth, there are weekly check-ins, typically on weekends, when everyone on the EHM program must check-in with the program managers. This is when payment is made, upcoming schedules are discussed, documentation is provided showing where the participant went during the week, and any other administrative tasks.

Fifth, and certainly not least, if the participant is employed, the program will contact the employer to verify the participants employment. And the participant must get a daily time log signed by a manager or someone within HR in order to prove that he or she was at work as scheduled. For anyone trying to avoid informing their employment of their DWI, participating in the EHM program all but eliminates that likelihood.

As you can see, although EHM is a better alternative to serving time in custody, it is no walk in the park. It comes at a stiff cost financially and personally. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare better for it and, certainly, should be understood by your attorney when negotiating as good of a resolution as possible for your best interests.