SCRAM is an abbreviation for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring. An alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet enables courts to oversee persons who are prohibited from drinking alcohol. Many celebrities convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in California have contributed to the rising popularity of SCRAM bracelets. The courts require a vast number of people in all sorts of court cases to wear the SCRAM bracelet. Upon a conviction for driving under the influence, the court may require you to wear the SCRAM bracelet on a 24/7 basis. You can go to any place, including the shower with the bracelet, because the brace is not only tamper-proof but also water-resistant. We at the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer can help you understand all you need to know about the SCRAM bracelet, especially after a DUI conviction.
How does SCRAM Bracelet Work?
When you are wearing the SCRAM bracelet, the bracelet will check your sweat every thirty minutes and detect any alcohol present. The bracelet then transmits the results daily to a regional monitoring system. If you are a high-risk person, the bracelet may transmit the data more frequently. If the bracelet detects alcohol in your system, the court will receive a notification within 24 hours. The bracelet came into effect in 2003.
AMS is responsible for manufacturing both the SCRAM and the SCRAMx bracelets. SCRAMx is an advanced form of SCRAM because it monitors both the presence of alcohol and contains a radio frequency, which has a house-arrest monitoring system. Therefore, in addition to checking whether you have consumed alcohol, the SCRAMx bracelet also monitors if you have violated the house arrest terms.
The body eliminates alcohol present in the bloodstream through excretion. Most of the alcohol comes out of the body through the urine. However, some amount of alcohol may come out of the body through sweat, saliva, or breath. Of the alcohol in the bloodstream, around 1% of the alcohol escapes the body through insensible perspiration. Insensible perspiration consists of a small amount of ethanol vapor that passes or escapes through the skin. The SCRAM bracelet has a CAM system, which measures this insensible perspiration through the skin of the ankle.
The bracelet uses transdermal alcohol testing. The term transdermal means through the skin. The device can test alcohol through the skin because a small portion of the alcohol you consume escapes through the skin.
Accuracy of SCRAM Bracelets
In California, courts have decided that the SCRAM bracelets are scientifically sound. The evidence of alcohol consumption and tampering obtained from the devices if reliable and admissible in court proceedings. It is hard to challenge SCRAM results. To challenge the results from the bracelet, you would need to have evidence that the device has malfunctioned, leading to unreliable results.
Many defendants may feel that the bracelet is an invasion of privacy. However, the court imposes alcohol monitoring as a condition of probation or parole. Usually, alcohol monitoring serves as an alternative to incarceration. Therefore, as invasive as the bracelet may seem, it is more convenient than serving time in jail or prison. However, the court cannot impose alcohol monitoring on you without enough evidence that you have a drinking problem.
A modem comes in handy in uploading the results obtained by the bracelet, and a private company monitors the results. If you test positive for alcohol, the private company reports to the court. Many courts in California say that a majority of the defendants complete alcohol monitoring successfully without an incident of a violation.
Cost of SCRAM Bracelets
Typically, alcohol monitoring can be expensive. The defendant may have to pay a one-time installation fee and a daily monitoring fee. The consolidated monthly fees of the alcohol-monitoring device are considerable. Although the defendant is responsible for the costs of bracelet and monitoring, low-income individuals may pay lower amounts depending on their ability to pay.
The cost of installing the system may range from $50 to $100. However, you will have to pay the daily monitoring fees, and the fees may vary depending on several factors. For continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM), the applicable monitoring fee ranges between $10 and $12. For a CAM accompanied by house arrest monitoring, you may have to pay higher daily monitoring fees ranging between $13 and $15. The costs may vary depending on the financial position of the defendant and the monitoring period. The costs will also depend on the availability of a SCRAM service provider in your area.
Other Conditions of Electronic Monitoring
While wearing the ankle bracelet, you are free to visit various places. For instance, you are free to go to work or school with a bracelet. You may also attend an alcohol-counseling program and other court-mandated programs. You are also free to complete community service and to attend to other obligations imposed as conditions for probation or parole. You may also be open to visiting places like the gym and the grocery, and on specific days, you may be open to participating in pre-approved and scheduled activities.
If you are on electronic monitoring, you may be subject to some additional conditions. For instance, you may be subject to curfew times, whereby you have to remain in your residence. You may have to stay in your house during certain daylight hours or at night. You may also be subject to random drug testing. The police may appear in your home at any time and test you for alcohol or drugs. While on electronic alcohol monitoring, you may have to attend periodic meetings with the probation or parole officer. You may also be subject to a random search of your residence or within the perimeter of your home. You may have restrictions on the places you may visit and the hours you may spend away from home, and the persons you may meet.
Who Wears a SCRAM Bracelet?
You may have to wear the SCRAM bracelet as a condition to stay out of jail. The court may impose not drinking alcohol as a condition for staying out of jail. You may have to wear the bracelet as a condition of probation. By wearing the SCRAM bracelet, the court or the judge will be sure that you are indeed refraining from alcohol consumption. In most cases, repeat DUI offenders may have to wear bracelets. Other candidates for wearing the bracelet include frequent users of alcohol.
Upon an arrest and a conviction for driving under the influence and other alcohol-related violations, the judge may decide on the most appropriate legal consequence. At times, the judge may decide that the best consequence is to prohibit you from consuming alcohol for a specified period. The period may be weeks or even months, depending on the discretion of the judge. During the probationary periods, the bracelet will help the authorities to monitor your alcohol usage. The court may use the SCRAM bracelets alongside other rehabilitative programs. The bracelet and the programs aim at enabling the offender to break habitual drinking patterns.
Types of Cases that May Require the Use of a SCRAM Device
Other than adult driving under the influence sentencing and probation, the SCRAM bracelet may also come in handy in other types of cases. For instance, you may have to wear the bracelet as a condition of the bail bond during pretrial supervision. The bracelet may also form part of a specialty court program, including California Drug Court, Military Diversion, and California Veterans Court. The bracelet may also act as a form of early parole in California, whereby an offender gets an early release mainly due to overcrowding in jail or prison.
The bracelet may also help to support offender reentry programs. SCRAM may also form part of a sentence or probation condition for domestic violence offenders. If you are facing charges for domestic violence and alcohol was a major contributing factor to the offense, you may have to wear a bracelet. The bracelet also comes in handy in assisting offenders who are guilty of violating the California underage drinking and driving laws.
Period of Wearing the SCRAM Bracelet
The judge has the discretion to decide the length for which the offender should wear the bracelet. The typical periods for wearing the bracelet may range from 30 days to more than one year. While deciding about the period for which you should wear the bracelet, the judge may consider several factors. First, the judge considers the seriousness of the DUI offense. The more serious the DUI offense, the longer you are likely to wear the SCRAM bracelet. The judge will also consider the number or the previous DUI offenses you may have committed. The more DUI offenses you may have committed in the past ten years, the longer you may have to wear the bracelet. The judge will also consider your problem with alcohol. If you are a frequent consumer of alcohol, the judge may require you to wear the bracelet for a more extended period.
Violating the SCRAM Bracelet Requirements
If the judge orders you to use a SCRAM bracelet, you have to comply fully with the requirements and instructions. If you fail to comply with all the requirements outlined by the court, you may face some harsh consequences. Some of the consequences for failing to comply are the imposition of the original penalties for DUI. The penalties may include paying hefty fines and serving time in jail.
If you fail to comply with the SCRAM bracelet requirements, you may lose your driving privileges in California. Most DUI offenses in California lead to suspension of the driver's license. If you agree to wear the SCRAM bracelet and honor its terms and conditions, the court may allow you to retain your driving privileges. However, if you violate the requirements of the bracelet, the court may enforce license suspension.
Failure to comply with the requirements of the SCRAM bracelet may also lead to loss of civil privileges. The court may withdraw your privileges and recommend jail time instead of probation, parole, or alternative sentencing. You may also be subject to rehabilitative measures. The measures may include mandatory counseling and community services programs.
Can you be able to remove the SCRAM bracelet? The device is difficult to remove, but with much effort, you can remove it. However, if you remove the bracelet, it will alert the regional monitoring center. The monitoring center will then alert the court that you have removed the bracelet. Upon learning about your removal of the monitoring bracelet, the judge may convene a hearing, which is similar to a probation violation hearing. During this hearing, the judge will decide whether to send you to jail.
Going to Work or School with a SCRAM or SCRAMx Device
With a SCRAM device, there is a restriction on your movement, and you are free to visit any place you desire. However, this is not the case while you are wearing a SCRAMx device. The SCRAMx program entails monitoring of your house arrest and your alcohol use. Your house arrest may be total and maybe on a curfew. For complete house arrest, you will have to stay in the house at all times. If, based on a curfew, you may be free to visit certain places like school or work during specified times of day or night. The SCRAM program is not a form of house arrest. Therefore, even as you participate in the program, you are still free to work and to attend schools. You may also get alcohol treatment while still wearing the device. In other words, you will go about your normal life with only one restriction; you cannot drink alcohol.
You may get credit for the time you serve while wearing a SCRAMx bracelet. The court will only order you to wear the SCRAMx bracelet if you are on both DUI monitoring and house arrest. Because you are living in confinement, the court may give you credit for the time you serve. You will still get credit even if you are free to leave at certain times and for specific purposes. However, you are not living in confinement while wearing the SCRAM bracelet. Therefore, the court will not give you any credit for the time you serve while wearing the device.
Alcohol in the Environment
If there is alcohol in the environment or another person spills alcohol on you, how will the SCRAM bracelet respond? You should note that the device is smart and can distinguish between alcohol in the environment and consumed alcohol. Some people try to trick the device by exposing it to alcohol or by spilling alcohol on it. Spilling alcohol on the device may lead to a spike in its data. However, the device will show a different pattern than it does upon detecting consumed alcohol.
Upon acquiring the bracelet, you have to sign an agreement that prohibits you from using products containing alcohol on or around the bracelet. You will not have violated the law if you accidentally expose the bracelet to alcohol. However, you may face charges if you intentionally expose the device to alcohol. This offense may subject you to court sanctions.
You may feel concerned about consuming medicine, which has alcohol or other products like mouthwash, which may have alcohol content. However, you do not have to worry because as long as you take the medicines as directed, the medicine will not result in a false positive. The medicine may only influence the device if you take too much medicine leading to intoxication. If you take any other product that results in intoxication, you may violate the court's order even if the intoxication is due to the consumption of another product other than alcohol.
The Vibration of the SCRAM Bracelet
Whenever the bracelet is taking a reading, you are likely to feel a slight vibration. Therefore, you do not have to worry if you notice a slight vibration of the device. Most users report that they get used to the vibrations within the first day. SCRAM bracelet is different from blood, breath, or urine testing. This difference is because the device samples your perspiration automatically and continues to measure alcohol consumption.
You may also notice that the SCRAM bracelet may light up from time to time. In most cases, the bracelet may indicate a green light. This light means that the bracelet is communicating with the central monitoring station. The green light may keep blinking, and this would be an indication that the modem is attempting to communicate with the SCRAM bracelet. If the light of your bracelet blinks red, it may be an indication that you need to charge the bracelet. You may notice that upon connecting the charger, the bracelet vibrates and stabilizes.
You do not have any reason for removing the bracelet at any time; you can shower with the bracelet still on because it is water-resistant. It is advisable to clean the area around the bracelet and the bracelet as well. The bracelet may come with a manual on how to clean and maintain it.
Most people often ask if the bracelet can detect when you take only one beer. It is essential to understand that the device detects alcohol through the skin as your body metabolizes it. The device will detect alcohol if your body is still processing it. It may take your liver an average of one hour to process one ounce of alcohol. Therefore, it will depend on how much you drink and exactly when you drank for the device to detect. However, you should note that given its high level of effectiveness, the device is likely to detect even slight alcohol consumption. It is essential to stay away from alcohol if you are under electronic monitoring.
Interfering with the SCRAM
You may try to be smart with the SCRAM device to prevent it from detecting alcohol in your system. For instance, you may try to put something between your ankle and the SCRAM. However, the bracelet has an infrared sensor and detects any form of interference. The infrared sensor shines a beam of infrared against the skin. Part of the beam bounces back to the device while the skin absorbs part of the beam. When you first install the device, it measures the baseline Infrared reading. Later on, if the reading varies by a substantial percentage, the device interprets that you have probably inserted something between your skin and the device. The bracelet will send an alert that you tried to interfere with it.
In addition to the infrared sensor, the device also comes with a temperature sensor. The bracelet will take temperature readings and continuously monitor the temperature. If there is a variance in temperature, it may be an indication that there is an object between the skin and the device. If you place an obstruction, it will result in lower temperature readings.
Challenging SCRAM Bracelets Readings
There have been countless claims contesting the accuracy of SCRAM bracelets readings. There have also been several instances where the bracelet submitted inaccurate readings. Cases of the bracelet providing a false positive are also common. A false positive refers to a situation where the bracelet indicates that you have violated the court order, yet you have not used alcohol.
If you contest the results of a SCRAM bracelet, you may request a hearing with the court. During the hearing, you will determine whether the violation occurred or whether the device issued false readings. At the hearing, you may present documents to support your innocence. With the help of an attorney, you may give witness testimony asserting that you did not consume alcohol.
Any time you face charges for SCRAM violation, it is crucial to contact an attorney. You should go for an attorney who understands how the technology works. The attorney should have the necessary expertise and experience to be able to challenge SCRAM evidence in court. The best defense to any criminal offense is a reliable attorney who can handle the prosecutor on your behalf.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Attorney near Me
After a DUI arrest, the court may recommend a SCRAM device to help monitor your alcohol consumption. It is crucial to seek legal counsel. We at the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer can help you to explore the available legal options. Contact us at 310-502-1314 and speak to one of our attorneys.