Getting a DUI is bad news, but getting multiple DUI’s is an absolute nightmare for anyone. This charge can take your life away from you and it could take years to get back to normalcy. Repeat DUI offenders typically face from 1 year in the county jail and/or up to 3 years in state prison. In most cases, these types of defendants have already failed at past alcohol treatments and the courts see them as an active danger to the public
Another alternative to jail and/or prison is if you or your lawyer introduce the idea of a SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor – Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.), which means you commit to going completely alcohol-free. In some cases, this could convince 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.
SCRAMs are more common for repeat DUI offenders, yet it’s uncommon in a first-time DUI. The courts use SCRAMs for long-term monitoring of someone who has an alcohol addiction problem, and who the courts order to abstain from alcohol as part of their treatment program. The SCRAM adds accountability because it is impossible for you to drink without the monitor detecting it.
A SCRAM device is a bracelet you wear on your ankle 24 hours a day as part of a DUI sentence. The person who installs it will permanently affix it to your lower leg, above your ankle, like a traditional tether. 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 you cover them with pants, they are hard to notice. Designed to work 24 hours a day, they will continuously detect alcohol coming from the user. SCRAM bracelets work by monitoring the wearer’s perspiration every 30 seconds, in some cases up to 30 minutes. The device is just like a breathalyzer as it measures the level of alcohol, if any, in the person’s body. The device then uploads results via the internet where third-party companies can monitor it.
When you drink, the alcohol you consume has to go somewhere. From the stomach, it enters the bloodstream, causing intoxication. The kidneys then slowly eliminate the alcohol and pass it through your urine. However, during the time it’s in the blood, you exhale some of it through your breath from the lungs (which can be measured with a breath test). 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.
Ankle monitors can also detect if you try to remove the device, and will include this in the report. 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. They will then report this to the courts. Likewise, the analysts report any tampering with the device immediately to the courts and your probation officer. Both are probation violations and can result in very serious consequences. The SCRAM will work even if you immerse it in water and needs to be worn at all times—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How much do SCRAM bracelets cost? Alcohol monitoring can be pricey. Usually, defendants pay a one-time installation fee ($50 to $100) and a daily monitoring fee (around $10 to $15), so monthly costs after installation can be as high as $450. This can still be worth the cost when you consider the time in jail and possible fines you might have to pay without one.
If you find yourself a victim of a DUI charge, don’t try to go at it alone.