Most people are probably aware of the device that a court may order to be installed in one’s car after a conviction of DUI of alcohol. This device is known as an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). However, not so many know of another alcohol monitoring device that a court may order in a DUI case. This device is known as SCRAM. SCRAM is an alternative sentence to being jailed, and its primary purpose is to ensure a defendant doesn’t drink any alcohol. For you to get a SCRAM sentence instead of jail time, you have to use the services of an experienced DUI attorney.  The attorney should be able to use his/her skills to persuade the judge to order a SCRAM sentence.

At the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, our DUI expert attorneys may be able to get you a SCRAM sentence thanks to their negotiating skills. If you have been charged with DUI and are looking at a lengthy jail sentence or you don’t want to go to jail at all, our attorneys may be able to help. Reach out to us as soon as possible and share with us your case. This article provides a summary of how SCRAM devices work when a court orders their use and the rationale behind them.

Understanding SCRAM- The Meaning

SCRAM is an abbreviation for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring device. It’s a bracelet worn around the ankle at all times if a person is found guilty of DUI. Secure means you cannot remove it and is in contact with your skin at all times. The continuous part means the device monitors for any presence of alcohol all through the twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week. This means there is no chance of not being sober without the device detecting you.

The remote part means the device does not need to be monitored in the presence of the user. Usually, the data from this device is transmitted securely to an external center. Or, the external center can download the data, instead of the SCRAM user being always supervised by a probation officer. Finally, the Alcohol Monitoring part is the SCRAM’s heart. It gauges the skin of the user constantly for alcohol, to detect in case the user consumes alcohol.

SCRAM provides alternative sentencing to DUI offenders. It is an option for DUI offenders that have been sentenced to jail time. Several judges look for practicality in solving the case at hand. Thus, instead of jail time, they often allow SCRAM to be the alternative sentence for DUI cases in situations where the jail sentence is mandatory. Another reason for SCRAM sentencing is that monitoring and rehab often give a similar credit for being jailed.

How SCRAM Works

The judge imposes SCRAM as additional sentencing if a person violates DUI laws. It’s a device that monitors alcohol in the blood by testing one’s sweat for BAC. The primary purpose of SCRAM is to make sure you adhere to alcohol abstinence during the period you will be on probation as ordered by the court. The court will only require you to put on the SCRAM bracelet, which will not disrupt your day to day routine.

However, the bracelet is quite heavy. It looks like an older Garmin watch. Also, this bracelet has two small boxes that rest on either side of the ankle. The size of these boxes can be compared to a pager. The bracelet uses a fuel cell to work. Its system combines a fuel cell (battery), transmission device (through downloads or cell technology), and an alcohol detection plate. This combination creates a constant alcohol monitoring and transdermal alcohol testing technology that monitors alcohol in the body and generate data. The generated data determine if you used alcohol or not.

SCRAM detects 1% of alcohol excreted by your skin when you consume alcohol. It rests on your skin and examines the current level of alcohol in your blood. Also, it provides measurements and a chart to the court or any other authority to show how you maintained sobriety, or your failure to maintain the same.

Using a transdermal sensor, SCRAM analyzes your sweat to record if there is any alcohol. The bracelet measures and records alcohol readings at irregular intervals of once per hour at the minimum. Also, it timestamps, and dates all the recorded data, then relays the information to the monitoring center wirelessly. The information from the device is relayed once a day at the minimum.

As the bracelet records readings, you will experience a little bit of vibration. After the device relays the data, trained and experienced data analysts at the monitoring center, further analyze this data to see if you might have consumed any alcohol. After the analysis, the results are then forwarded to the probation officers or courts. SCRAM bracelets do not have lights, alarms, or any other signals that can notify you if there is any alert. Warning signals usually happen at the monitoring center. The center is the central point of analysis for all warnings before the final results are sent to the court or probation officer.

SCRAM has many sensors that will detect any attempt to remove or tamper with it. In the past, several defendants have used luncheon meats, paper, socks, creams, etc., to try fooling the SCRAM machine. However, nowadays, the sensors can detect any attempt to trick a SCRAM device in this manner. Any attempt to trick or remove the device is recorded in a daily monitoring report. The reports may have you facing more penalties if forwarded to the court. If you remove or tamper with your SCRAM device, the monitoring center is promptly contacted. Your probation officer and the court will also be informed immediately.

Since you will be required to have the SCRAM bracelet 24/7, it is made to be water-resistant. However, when you have the device on, you can only take a shower; not a bath. You are not allowed to immerse the bracelet in water (including hot tubs, bathtubs, and swimming pools). Submerging the device in water will be interfering with its normal functioning. Interfering with the bracelet’s functioning may attract the same penalties as those of removing or tampering with it. Also, if the bracelet is damaged, you will have to pay for the damages. SCRAM performs diagnostic tests continuously, and this keeps it functioning accurately.

When you drink alcohol, the body processes much of it to urine. The remaining amount is discharged through breathing; which breathalyzers measure to determine your BAC. A small amount (usually 1%) of the alcohol you drink escapes from the body through sweating in the form of ethanol vapor. Human senses cannot detect this amount. However, SCRAM can sense it accurately and relay the info to the monitoring center.

In case the SCRAM device records positive alcohol results, you may be subjected to severe repercussions. They include:

  • Probation violation charges
  • Extra jail time
  • Loss of pretrial release awaiting the determination of your case

Also, there are certain products containing alcohol that you should not use when wearing SCRAM. During installation, the court will need you to enter an agreement that forbids the use of the products. Signing an agreement is an assurance that you won’t trigger false positive recordings by applying alcoholic products on the device.

SCRAM differentiates the alcohol in your body and the one in the surrounding environment. Being exposed to alcohol doesn’t automatically mean that you consumed it. SCRAM analysts should ensure that the confirmed positive results are from alcohol consumption. Intentionally exposing the bracelet to alcohol by either spraying or spilling will be violating SCRAM rules. For this violation, you may be subjected to several court sanctions.

The Timeframe for Wearing a SCRAM Device

The period for which you should put on a SCRAM device varies. The judge may need you to have it on for any given period. Usual timeframes range from thirty days to over a year. However, averagely, you may be required to have the device on for up to ninety days. Generally, the timeframe is at the judge’s discretion. Factors that the judge would consider when deciding on how long you should wear the SCRAM bracelet include:

  • How serious your current DUI offense is
  • How many previous DUI offenses you have been convicted of
  • The seriousness of your drinking problem

Putting on a SCRAM device doesn’t earn you any credit because the SCRAM sentence doesn’t include confinement.

SCRAM is unlike other methods of DUI monitoring. For instance, when using an IID (Ignition Interlock Device), your blood alcohol content is measured only when you are driving. However, for SCRAM, it monitors alcohol intake constantly. SCRAM also differs from a confinement ankle bracelet. While a home confinement device monitors plus your location, with SCRAM it is possible to go anywhere as long as you don’t violate the terms of probation.

SCRAM Advantages & Disadvantages

Using SCRAM comes with many advantages as compared to being jailed. Wearing the SCRAM bracelet might seem to be causing a disruption. However, in the real sense, the primary reason for having the bracelet on is so that you do not drink alcohol. Many people that use SCRAM are those guilty of multiple DUI offenses and those that have alcohol addictions.

A SCRAM sentence is often an additional sentence to rehabilitation instead of a jail sentence. It’s an alternative penalty whose aim is rehabilitating instead of punishing you. If you qualify for SCRAM, the court orders you to put on the bracelet for a long enough period, so it monitors your rehabilitation.

In case a DUI offender agrees to use SCRAM, he/she will get no jail sentence or a reduced sentence. Using this bracelet, you can go to work, school, as well as other social events or engagements provided you remain as sober as possible. Combining the use of SCRAM and rehabilitation as a penalty for DUI is a preferable alternative to a jail sentence. This is especially so if you are facing 3rd or 4th DUI charges within ten years.

Prolonged use of SCRAM may also help an offender to get his/her driver’s license reinstated. If the device doesn’t detect any alcohol in your extended use, it will prove to the judge that you’ve maintained sobriety. Additionally, it will show the judge that you have committed yourself to maintain your safety and don’t have an additional issue. While you may be using this device for the sole purpose of avoiding a jail sentence, its invention could eventually be a remedy to your dependency on alcohol.

To the California government, using SCRAM on DUI offenders can be one way of reducing the cost of managing or running jails. This is because DUI offenders won’t have to do jail/prison time. Also, using SCRAM is one of the most effective ways of treating any addiction to alcohol you might have. This is especially so if the SCRAM bracelet is integrated with various types of counseling or treatment. It may make you quit drinking before causing severe harm to any person.

However, there are also various disadvantages of putting on a SCRAM bracelet. One major disadvantage is the court constantly monitors you, and therefore, you cannot drink any quantity of alcohol. If there’s any proof to show that you violated this requirement, you may be incarcerated. Additionally, tampering or attempting to tamper with this device could have you jailed. Another disadvantage is that you have to experience the discomfort of putting on the device 24/7.

Another drawback of using a SCRAM bracelet is that you are responsible for paying for it. The SCRAM installation cost ranges from $50 to $100. Also, you have to pay an average fee for monitoring the device, which ranges from $10 to $12 per day. These prices depend on how much income you earn. In case you are not financially stable, the court pays for the device on your behalf. But, compared to the jail sentence you would have served, paying for this device might not be a significant inconvenience.

Like other devices, SCRAM devices may not be 100% perfect. People who work around acetones, alcohol, solvents, or cleaning products should be keen not to spill any of these substances on their bodies. This is because SCRAM registers positive alcohol results any time it detects any level of alcohol on your skin. If these substances are spilled on the body, they could be detected as a false positive of alcohol on the SCRAM device. Additionally, using perfumes, toiletries, or mouthwash may result in results that are false positive. Generally, if the bracelet detects alcohol presence either from a topical application or sweat, it will automatically register the presence of alcohol.

Persons Eligible for Using SCRAM

A SCRAM machine is specially made to detect levels of alcohol in a person’s body. Thus, putting on a SCRAM bracelet means the court or any authority expects you to refrain from drinking alcohol. As of now, California State doesn’t have an explicit statute that regulates who should and who should not use SCRAM. There is also no statute mandating defendants to wear this device if they are found guilty of DUI.

As we mentioned earlier, SCRAM devices are very intrusive. Thus, only a few of the DUI offenders can agree to put on the bracelet. Usually, these devices are reserved for serious DUI cases that are dangerous to the public; for instance, alcohol dependency or multiple past convictions.

DUI cases are unique. Therefore, the resolution of whether or not you should use a SCRAM bracelet lies at the discretion of the judge. Most judges would decide on this matter, depending on your record of conviction and background. If you have a clean conviction record, the judge might rule that you wear the bracelet. However, if you have had multiple DUIs which are not so far from each other, you may go to jail instead of a judge recommending SCRAM.

After a DUI arrest, the police will conduct a background review for any conviction records within the past ten years. If you have been convicted more than once for DUI, it shows that your ability to make decisions on matters drinking & driving is poor. Also, if you are a repeat DUI offender, a judge will see that you will most likely cause fatal crashes. Therefore, the judge might order that you put on a SCRAM device.

Additionally, a judge may require you to wear a SCRAM bracelet if you show alcohol addiction signs. Alcohol addiction is when you have an alcoholism record or your past attempts to treat or eliminate problems related to your alcohol drinking were unsuccessful. Voluntarily submitting to wearing a SCRAM bracelet could prevent a jail sentence and show the judge your commitment to seeking assistance for your alcohol-related problem.

In many cases, SCRAM is used for long-term monitoring of an individual in case part of his/her DUI sentence was to stop consuming alcohol. Generally, a judge will order you to put on a SCRAM device in case you aren’t allowed to consume any alcohol amount. This is mainly if you have been sentenced to probation. In other cases, the judge may require you to use the device temporarily while you wait for the verdict of your case. Thus, if you must wear a SCRAM bracelet, we advise that you entirely refrain from alcohol consumption for the whole period the SCRAM is on.

Usually, courts believe that SCRAM devices are proven scientifically. Proof of tampering with the device or alcohol detection in your blood will be admissible in court. For you to challenge the accuracy of SCRAM records successfully, you will have to prove that the bracelet malfunctioned. You will also have to argue that there are SCRAM devices that provide false-positive results. And in case there is a witness to attest that you weren’t drinking, the judge may overrule your SCRAM results. SCRAM results can also be overruled if the prosecutor lacks adequate proof that you drank alcohol.

Cases in Which SCRAM Can be Used

Apart from probation and adult DUI sentencing, SCRAM is frequently used for the following purposes:

  • As a requirement of bond during pretrial supervision
  • As part of a special court program like drug court, military diversion, or veterans court
  • To support re-entry programs for offenders
  • As an early parole requirement (this is for those offenders that are released early because of overcrowding in prisons/jails)
  • To assist offenders who are sentenced for violating underage drinking & driving laws
  • As part of a probation or sentence requirement for domestic violence offenders. This is especially if alcohol was a contributing factor in the offense.

The Idea Behind SCRAM Bracelet Invention

The main reason SCRAM devices were invented was to create a feasible alternative to a jail sentence if a person is convicted of driving under the influence. These devices were designed because prisons/jails are overcrowded, and inmate maintenance is also expensive. By putting on SCRAM, a person will be permitted to walk freely. A person’s freedom saves government funds. It also creates space in jails/prisons for offenders charged with severer crimes.

It is the judge who has the right to determine whether a SCRAM device is enough penalty for your DUI offense. If you have been charged with a 3rd offense DUI, whether you will be jailed or subjected to SCRAM use is based on your place of residence and conviction record. And as we said earlier, SCRAM’s purpose is to prevent offenders from exhausting funds and jail/prison space. Therefore, it is most likely that the judge will order a SCRAM sentence instead of jail time.

Where to Buy a SCRAM System

SCRAM devices can be obtained from different providers of local services. After a judge orders that you must wear the device, you should contact a trusted local SCRAM service provider to get one.

Find an Experienced DUI Attorney Near Me

If you have been charged with DUI in Orange County, the chances are that you will face a lengthy jail sentence. This is especially so if you have multiple prior DUI convictions. However, the attorneys at the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer are conversant with DUI laws.  They understand there is another option of serving a sentence apart from jail time. They will use their skills to negotiate for the SCRAM sentence, which is better off than going to jail. If you have a case, call us at 714-820-9592, so we can explore options for your case.