One of the measures California is taking to curb multiple DUI cases involves administering the SCRAM program. When sentenced to this program, you will be wearing a tamper-resistant ankle bracelet for testing your sweat for alcohol every thirty minutes. The San Jose DUI Attorney, a law firm operating out of San Jose, CA, can help you understand your rights with regards to the administration of this program. In this article, our lawyers take you through the SCRAM and SCRAMx systems and programs.

An Overview of the SCAM Program

The Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring technology, SCRAM, came to the market to help monitor defendants under supervision for consuming alcohol. With this technology, community corrections officers can receive alerts on alcohol use from the ankle bracelets worn by various defendants. County officials across the state of California have invested in the SCRAM technology to remedy jail overcrowding. They also rely on the technology to make defendants remain within the community during the pretrial period.

Defendants wearing SCRAM devices have the freedom to maintain employment at the course of their respective sentences. They can also operate motor vehicles as long as they remain within their communities. The goal of using SCRAM technology is to maintain law and order without having to overcrowd the correctional facilities.

How the SCRAM Technology Works

As a remote alcohol monitoring system, SCRAM comprises a water-resistant and tamperproof ankle bracelet. The bracelet comes designed with a system for checking your sweat for alcohol presence in 30-minute intervals. SCRAM devices frequently transmit data belonging to high-risk offenders. They also notify the court if there are traces of alcohol in your sweat sample.

A SCRAMx device takes the form of an ankle bracelet with a house arrest monitoring system relying on radiofrequency. Besides checking for alcohol use, the equipment can check for your absence from or presence in your home. SCRAM gadgets come with a transdermal alcohol testing system for testing the presence of alcohol through the skin. They operate on the logic that a drunk person must pass out some alcohol he/she consumed through the skin.

Inner Workings of the Device

When you consume alcohol, ethanol tends to migrate through your skin before being released (secreted) through a process known as perspiration. The SCRAM technology helps measure transdermal alcohol content (TAC) in your body if you are wearing the bracelet. It measures your TAC levels by extracting a sample of your sweat (a byproduct of perspiration). SCRAM devices are mobile, unlike traditional BAC devices that use stationary gadgets such as breathalyzers.

BAC (known as blood alcohol concentration) is the measure of the amount of alcohol one consumed at a given time. The measure gives a one-time view of an individual's alcohol consumption habits. With SCRAM, law enforcement officers can get continuous test results of the person under supervision regardless of his/her location. TAC seems to be superior to BAC when determining the actual alcohol content in one's body. The burnoff rates for blood alcohol are usually high since blood alcohol lasts for a few hours when you take an alcoholic drink.

Transdermal alcohol content (TAC) levels tend to remain high for a longer duration than BAC levels. With this advantage, SCRAM devices can detect alcohol consumption even a few long hours after your last drink. They can also measure your body temperature to identify whether you tampered with or removed the ankle bracelet.

Parts of the SCRAM System

The SCRAM system comes bundled with three components, including the SCRAM modem, SCRAMnet, and the SCRAM bracelet. As a device weighing 8 ounces, the SCRAM bracelet is designed to attach to your ankle. The bracelet comprises a data storage component and a sensor park. With the data-storage compartment, it is easier for your supervisor to store, collect, and download data relating to your alcohol consumption patterns. The storage component can detect tamper attempts while the sensor pack helps test water vapor on your skin.

A SCRAM modem is usually connected to a local landline to transmit data using secure radio frequencies at prescribed times every day. The modem also stores diagnostic data obtained from the bracelet, body temperature, alcohol readings, and tamper alerts. SCRAMnet (a web-based app for collecting, analyzing, and storing offender data) helps facilitate data transfer from the modem to the supervising agency. The component relays reporting and monitoring schedules to the modem. Supervising agencies employ the SCRAMnet when controlling processes such as reporting, synchronization, and testing of samples of the SCRAM wearers.

How Viable are SCRAM Systems?

SCRAM devices made history for being the first and only secure continuous remote alcohol-monitoring devices that are commercially available in the world upon their release. Though other alcohol testing technologies exist, SCRAM devices offer more accurate alcohol use tests and are more durable (tamperproof). They also cost roughly the same as other alcohol testing technologies.

Corrections officials, judges, parole, community supervision, and probation staff form the supervising parties with respect to the use of SCRAM technology. Most of them already have SCRAM systems in place to monitor the alcohol use and TAC levels of the wearers. More community corrections agencies continue to invest in SCRAM gadgets for the countless benefits they give. California judges are even including the SCRAM program in the sentences for domestic violence and DUI offenders to save money and reduce the jail population.

What Increases the Need for SCRAM Devices?

On multiple occasions (such as the holidays) there is usually an abnormally increase in the number of car accidents caused by drunk driving. Law enforcement officers also receive several domestic violence complaints related to alcohol use. Recognizing the increased risks of DUI and domestic violence brought by alcohol use, supervising agencies work together to administer the SCRAM program. The goal of the SCRAM program is to provide monitored sobriety and accountability for high-risk offenders with a history of alcohol use.

SCRAM devices serve as an alternative for jail for individuals facing DUI charges. The court may also order you to wear one as part of the conditions of your DUI probation. SCAM devices allow DUI offenders to seek alcohol abuse treatment while going about their day-to-day operations. SCAM devices are free to outfit and may also form part of the procedures used in house arrest monitoring. When you wear a SCRAM device while on house arrest, the device will be referred to as SCRAMx.

Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors, abbreviated as SCRAM, have been helping improve compliance with the laws on offenses related to alcohol. Once the SCRAM device tests your sweat, it will wirelessly send the results to the relevant monitoring center. Officers of the monitoring center will determine whether your blood alcohol content is above the required limit by testing the sample. The offenses that make it mandatory for a DUI offender to participate in a SCRAM program include:

  • DUI causing injury (under Vehicle Code 23153)
  • Driving under the influence (under Vehicle Code 23152a)
  • Driving with a 0.08 percent BAC or higher (under Vehicle Code 23152b)
  • Any other offense related to alcohol consumption

When Would a California Court Recommend SCRAM Devices?

One option a judge has when he/she wants to prohibit you from taking alcohol is to require you to wear a SCRAM device. The judge may ask you to have the equipment during your pretrial proceedings or after the conviction to monitor your alcohol use when you are out of the court. SCRAM systems eliminate the need for sending probation officers or pretrial supervisors to test alcohol use at the defendants' homes. It is also logical and cost-effective to keep domestic violence and DUI offenders out of jail for them to be sober.

Pretrial SCRAM

The specific facts of your case may allow a judge to release you from jail once you agree to wear a SCRAM gadget. In this type of situation, the judge will consider the SCRAM program as one of the conditions of your pretrial release. The supervising agency will have assurances that you will not be getting yourself into any alcohol-related problems or drinking while your case in court is pending.

Your criminal case may allow you to observe pretrial SCRAM conditions if you are a high-risk offender who needs close monitoring. High-risk offenders may have a history of domestic violence or DUI and are known to put other people's safety (including theirs) at risk. The intensity of the prosecutor's criminal allegations against you may increase your chances of being a high-risk defendant.

Post-Conviction SCRAM

A California court may require you to have a SCRAM bracelet on you following your conviction. The requirement to wear the bracelet may form the conditions of your probation. Criminal courts such as DUI courts tend to use SCRAM systems to monitor offenders upon their conviction for continued sobriety. The court may not require you to wear the bracelet if you are a first offender. SCRAM probation conditions generally apply to high-risk and repeat offenders.

Primary/Secondary Outcomes and Efficiencies to Expect from SCRAM Systems

The main outcome of using SCRAM systems is to foster the detection of illegal alcohol use among the SCRAM wearers. You may expect the secondary results for employing this technology to include increased compliance with probation/supervision conditions and reduced alcohol use. Each outcome will depend on the ways the supervising parties use in different situations. When used to help make sentencing decisions, SCRAM systems can potentially decrease jail overcrowding by allowing the would-be inmates to live in the community.

With SCRAM systems, supervising parties can monitor offenders with alcohol abuse histories under pretrial release or sentence in the community. Offenders get to retain their employment and carry activities such as driving while their supervisors continuously monitor their alcohol consumption. It is quite cheaper to use this technology when compared to sentencing a defendant to jail. The technology may help minimize criminal and technical offenses people commit during the duration of supervision.

Are There Any Operational Alternatives to SCRAM Systems?

One operational alternative to SCRAM systems would involve sentencing an offender to other forms of supervision administered to offenders with similar cases/charges. The other options would include home arrest with conditional supervision, use of global positioning systems, and use of electronic monitoring systems. However, these devices would make it difficult to obtain alcohol use readings from the offender.

In What Cases Would the Court Require You to Wear a SCRAM Bracelet?

If one of your conditions for avoiding jail mandates you to be sober, the court may require you to wear the ankle bracelet. In this case, wearing the SCRAM device will be one of the conditions for your DUI probation. You will promise the court to refrain from the consumption of alcohol.

Most judges allow offenders to wear the bracelet when they have severe alcohol addiction/dependence or multiple prior DUI convictions. The kinds of cases for wearing a SCRAM bracelet vary with the sentencing and probation conditions given to an offender. SCRAM is a requirement when:

  • You are attending a specialty court program such as military diversion, California Veterans Court or California Drug court
  • SCRAM is listed among the conditions of your bond while under pretrial supervision
  • There is a pressing need (in the corrections industry) to support the re-entry programs for offenders
  • You have a conviction for violating California's driving and underage drinking laws
  • Offenders are on probation or sentenced for domestic violence triggered by alcohol use
  • You want to request early parole (an early release due to overcrowding in the jail/prison)

How Long Will You Have to Wear the SCRAM Bracelet?

The time for wearing a SCRAM alcohol-monitoring bracelet varies from thirty days to a year. A California judge will consider the number of DUI offenses you have in your record and the severity of the current DUI charge. The extent of your problem with consuming alcohol will also help determine the timeframe for wearing the bracelet.

Operational Environments that Suit SCRAM Systems

SCRAM systems work well when used in a community setting. In this case, the supervising agency will allow the bracelet wearer to live in the community and carry out day-to-day activities while the device measures alcohol use. Sentenced offenders may use SCRAM systems for about 180 days while pretrial ones may use them for an average of 120 days. The end goal of using the SCRAM technology in its relevant operational environment is to foster continuous testing of alcohol use.


What Outcomes/Values Do Wearers Envision in SCRAM Technology?

SCRAM systems target offenders who are at risk of committing crimes or putting others at danger while under the influence of alcohol. All wearers have various histories of alcohol misuse or abuse. Judges in California consider this technology as a solution for offenders who are prone to violence or criminal behavior when intoxicated with alcohol. Your goal while using this device is to attain permanent abstinence from any alcohol use. Other realistic outcomes to expect are as follows:

  • Decreased recidivism
  • Increased compliance with other forms of supervision and treatment
  • Reduced alcohol consumption
  • Reduced chances for going to jail (which translates to a decrease in jail overcrowding)

Obstacles/Limitations to Using the SCRAM Technology

When SCRAM devices were still new in the market, one limitation to using them was their cost. However, more supervising agencies have funds set for purchasing the units. The only challenge users face is that the system requires them to use a landline (which most of them do not have) to download the information. Users are, at times, forced to make new arrangements for them to access a landline for downloading data from the ankle bracelets.

Where Can You Get SCRAM Devices?

Once a judge gives you the order to wear a SCRAM device, you can get one from a local SCRAM seller. The court will expect you to pay for the SCRAM program from your pocket. However, the court may cover part of your payment if you cannot raise the money. You may also reach out to local authorized service providers and agree on the payment terms. It costs $13 to $15 every day using SCRAM for house arrest individuals and $10 to $12 per day for continuous alcohol monitoring alone.

Does the Wearer Have Any Permission to Remove the Ankle Bracelet?

Though SCRAM devices are difficult to crack or uninstall, wearers can explore some flaws and break them. While removing the device may seem like an ideal thing to do, a built-in receiver will immediately notify the Regional Monitoring Center. The Regional monitoring Center will then inform the court that you were trying to tamper with the gadget. A judge will hold a hearing used to determine whether or not you will go to jail for the offense.

Can the Wearer Go to Work or School with the SCRAM Device?

The SCRAM program allows wearers with SCRAM devices to go to school or work with them on their ankles. Wearers with SCRAMx devices, on the other hand, cannot leave the house with the device since they are on house arrest. The rules for the house arrest may differ with the charges you are facing or your current condition. A local court will be the only party with jurisdiction on how far you can go when you have a SCRAMx on your ankle.

While the SCRAM program can allow you to go to work/school with the SCRAM gadget, you ought not to drink alcohol. You may decide to seek alcohol treatment or carry out other activities in your schedule on the condition that alcohol is out of the picture. The goal here is to allow you to lead a normal life without any alcohol-triggered impairment.

Can You Shower with the SCRAM Device?

As a SCRAM wearer, you will have the freedom to shower with the device on your ankle. Showering can help clean the area surrounding the bracelet. However, this freedom will not be useful when you want to take a bath. You will be told not to submerge the ankle bracelet in pools of water such as bathtubs, hot tubs, or swimming pools.

How Should a SCRAM Wearer Act in an Environment with Alcohol?

The significant difference existing between alcohol in an environment and consumed alcohol gives SCRAM wearers a big relief when they are in settings with alcohol. SCRAM systems can also tell the differences between the two phenomena. There have been cases of defendants spilling alcoholic drinks to their devices to expose them to alcohol. They believe that this approach will help them beat the equipment in detecting their BAC.

What most SCRAM wearers do not know is that it is a violation to expose a SCRAM device to alcohol. You will be subject to multiple court sanctions if you intentionally try to tamper with or trick the gadget. Before being issued the gadget, you must agree in writing not to use alcoholic products around your bracelet.

Can You Take Medicine with Alcohol in it While Participating in the SCRAM Program?

The SCRAM gadget will not record any false positives when you take your medicine as instructed. However, if you intentionally consume lots of medication with alcohol, you will be violating a court order. The same case applies to breathe sprays and mouthwashes, among other consumer products with alcohol.

Is There a "Time Served" Credit for Previous SCRAMx or SCRAM Bracelet Wearers?

The good thing with SCRAMx bracelets is they help the wearers earn credit for the sentence served. SCRAM wearers, on the other hand, do not any credit since their sentences did not include confinement. Credit, in this case, will entail the kind remarks one gets for completing a mandatory task.

SCRAMx wearers get credit since their sentencing terms focus on house arrest. You may gain the opportunity to leave the house or city without supervision for completing the SCRAMx program. The SCRAMx system is designed to gather points that add to the credit for time served.

Find an San Jose DUI Attorney Near Me

Speaking to a lawyer when charged with a SCRAM violation is the best thing to do to prevent the consequences of your actions from being severe. The San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm invites you (if you are charged in San Jose, CA) for a free consultation. Call us at 408-777-6630 to discuss your case with a proficient DUI lawyer.