A SCRAM bracelet is an alcohol monitoring device. Sometimes, an individual is ordered to wear one as part of their DUI sentence in California. They are usually used in cases where the individual is believed to have an alcohol addiction. They are considered more serious than ignition interlock devices, and they work very differently.
How Does a SCRAM Work?
SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. It’s a device you wear around your ankle, that detects alcohol in your sweat.
When you drink, the alcohol you consume has to go somewhere. As the body processes it, much of the alcohol is passed in urine. Some of it escapes with breath from deep in the lungs (this is the alcohol that a breath test senses.) But a tiny part of the alcohol—generally less than 1%—will escape as ethanol vapor through your sweat pores. Although not detectable to the human nose, this vapor can be detected by a machine. That is what a SCRAM does.
SCRAMs consist of a bracelet, and two small boxes that fit on either side of the leg, just above the ankle. The boxes are about the size of an old fashioned pager, or like a pair of boxy, full-sized earphones wrapped around your leg.
The SCRAM checks for alcohol in your blood roughly once an hour, at random intervals. It compiles the results and transmits a report to a monitoring service once a day. It can also detect if you try to tamper with the device, and will include this in the report.
SCRAMs are water-resistant and are worn 24 hours a day.
Will I Have to Wear a SCRAM?
Most DUI sentences do not include a SCRAM device. But if you have multiple past DUI’s it’s a possibility. Judges will consider ordering a SCRAM in several circumstances:
- You are on your third or fourth DUI
- You have a history of alcoholism
- Past attempts at alcohol treatment have failed
These are not official guidelines, and judges are not required to limit SCRAM use to these cases. But in practice, they only order them if they believe the defendant has a serious drinking problem.
It’s important to understand that a SCRAM sentence is an order not to drink at all. If you drink while wearing your SCRAM device you may have to go to jail. And SCRAMs are rarely ordered without other forms of treatment to go with them. You may be ordered to attend a set number of Alcoholics Anonymous sessions, for example, or to complete a session at a rehabilitation facility. The SCRAM is supposed to support your path to a sober life.
Although wearing a SCRAM is unpleasant, it’s also seen as a lenient or compassionate sentence. SCRAMs and alcohol treatment are a form of alternative sentencing. You get to avoid or reduce jail time as long as you complete your SCRAM term.
How Long Do I Have to Wear It?
SCRAM sentences vary. The minimum SCRAM sentence is 30 days, but this is rare because it’s unlikely that someone can prove they’ve given up drinking in just 30 days. A typically SCRAM sentence can last up to a year. In some cases, they last longer than that.
Why a SCRAM and Not an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device (IID) makes you do a breath test in order to start your car. In that sense, it works similarly to a SCRAM. But the two are very different. An IID is designed to make sure you don’t drive drunk. A SCRAM makes sure you don’t drink at all.
IID’s also suffer from a drawback: they only work if there’s one installed in the car. If you borrow a friend’s car, you could still drive drunk. With a SCRAM device, you can’t get away with driving drunk in any vehicle, because any drinking at all is monitored.
How Much Does a SCRAM Cost?
You have to pay the costs of a SCRAM out of pocket. There is a one-time installation fee when you first put it on, and an ongoing monitoring fee. In California you should expect a SCRAM to cost you at least $100 a year. If you’re unable to pay, the court may pay part or all of the fee for you.
Wearing a SCRAM is just one of the many penalties you can face if you’re convicted for DUI. The best thing you can do for your case is to talk to an experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer right away. We can connect you with a DUI attorney with the right skills for your case and get you a FREE consultation. Just fill out the form to the right and get your free consultation today.