A SCRAM device is a bracelet you wear on your ankle 24 hours a day as part of a DUI sentence. SCRAM is short for “Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor.” When you wear it, it monitors your alcohol consumption by sampling your sweat. You may be ordered to wear one if you are required to completely avoid alcohol as part of your DUI sentence. If you have any alcohol in your system, the SCRAM will send out an alert that you are breaking your probation terms.
Who has to wear a SCRAM device?
SCRAMs are usually used for repeat DUI offenders. It is not common in a first-time DUI. It’s typically used for long-term monitoring of someone who has an alcohol addiction problem, and who has been ordered to abstain from alcohol as part of their treatment program. The SCRAM is considered to add accountability because it is impossible to drink without having it be detected.
Is wearing a SCRAM a good thing or a bad thing?
It depends. On the one hand, a SCRAM is used as a form of punishment. It is expensive, occasionally uncomfortable, and it can be difficult to explain to loved ones. In this regard, a SCRAM is generally not something you want in your life.
On the other hand, a SCRAM can be used to keep you out of jail or prison. Repeat DUI offenders can, in some cases, face up to 1 year in the county jail or even 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison. Often, defendants in this situation have already failed at past alcohol treatment methods, and they are seen as a danger by the courts. But if you and your lawyer introduce the possibility of a SCRAM, it means you are committed to going completely alcohol-free. In some cases, this could get the prosecutor or judge to waive the prison time as long as you complete your SCRAM period. In other words, it can literally get you out of jail.
How does the SCRAM bracelet work?
When you drink, the alcohol you consume has to go somewhere. From the stomach it enters the bloodstream, causing intoxication, and is slowly eliminated by the kidneys and passed through your urine. However, during the time it’s in the blood, some of it is exhaled with breath from the lungs (which can be measured with a breath test), and a tiny part of the alcohol—generally less than 1%—escapes as ethanol vapor through your sweat pores. This amount of alcohol is not detectable to the human nose, but a SCRAM is sensitive enough to detect it.
SCRAMs resemble a bracelet with two small boxes that fit on either side of the leg, just above the ankle. These boxes are small enough that, when covered with pants, they are hard to notice.
Once activated, the SCRAM checks for alcohol in your blood at regular intervals. This may be as often as every 30 seconds. It takes the results and transmits them once a day to a monitoring service. It can also detect if you try to remove the device, and will include this in the report. The SCRAM will work even if immersed in water, and needs to be worn at all times—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If the SCRAM reports any alcohol in your system, analysts will review data from throughout the day to make sure it’s consistent with actual drinking. This will then be reported to the courts. Likewise, any tampering with the device is reported immediately to the courts and your probation officer. Both are considered a probation violation and can result in very serious consequences.
How long will I have to wear the SCRAM?
There is no fixed period for wearing a SCRAM, so the exact length depends on your case. Generally, DUI defendants who wear SCRAMS have to wear them for at least 1 month and no more than 1 year. If you and your lawyer are proposing a SCRAM to avoid jail or prison time, it’s often best to suggest a longer period—such as 6 months or a full year. This time is your chance to show the court that you really have gone alcohol-free and that you will not endanger anyone again.
Wearing a SCRAM is not free, however. It typically costs you, the offender, between $10-15 per day that you wear it. This can make it an expensive option, especially for longer sentences, but it can be worth it if it will keep you out of jail or prison.
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