Several states are taking a new step to prevent driving while intoxicated (DWI) – SCRAM bracelets. SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring. Defendants wear SCRAM bracelets on their ankle, similar to a house arrest bracelet. They continuously analyze the wearer’s sweat for traces of alcohol during parole or probation. If you receive a DWI conviction in North Carolina, you may find yourself wearing a SCRAM bracelet for a set number of days for alcohol monitoring.
How Does a SCRAM Bracelet Work?
Many states order DWI offenders to abstain from alcohol for a set amount of time as part of the penalty or rehabilitation process, with the goal of preventing further DWIs and helping the individual overcome a substance use disorder. The most common way to ensure compliance with a no-alcohol order is weekly check-ins, where the person would submit to weekly in-person blood alcohol concentration tests. Now, however, more jurisdictions are opting for SCRAM bracelets as a simpler and more accurate way to test for compliance.
A SCRAM bracelet works by using transdermal alcohol testing. The liver processes around 95% of alcohol a person consumes, the lungs and kidneys expel 4%, and about 1% leaves the body in the form of sweat. A SCRAM bracelet stays close to the skin and routinely checks the wearer’s sweat for the presence of alcohol. Most bracelets check sweat every 30 minutes, day and night. This holds wearers more accountable than traditional weekly checks, due to the fast burn-off of alcohol from the body.
SCRAM automatically tests sweat for alcohol without the wearer having to do anything differently. The wearer goes about his or her normal daily routine while the bracelet does its job. The device can recognize the difference between ingested alcohol and alcohol in the person’s environment. It can also keep track of the wearer’s location for probation reasons. The courts can view the wearer’s alcohol or tamper alerts, as well as compliance reports, online at any time.
How Much Does a SCRAM Bracelet Cost?
SCRAM Systems’ DWI alcohol monitoring bracelet is the SCRAM CAM. The company also makes devices for GPS location monitoring, house arrest, and remote breath testing. The courts make it the DWI defendant’s responsibility to purchase a SCRAM bracelet if alcohol monitoring through this device is part of the defendant’s sentence.
The same is true if the defendant must install an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle. The offender must pay a deposit to purchase the device, on top of up to hundreds per month for monthly monitoring services. Defendants who cannot afford a SCRAM bracelet may qualify for financial assistance.
SCRAM Bracelet False Positives
A SCRAM bracelet can detect any amount of alcohol in the wearer’s system. Positive alcohol content results from a SCRAM bracelet immediately send a violation alert to authorities. Disobeying an abstinence order can result in penalties such as jail time, fines, loss of driving privileges, probation or parole, or rehabilitation such as mandatory alcohol counseling.
It is possible to get a false positive while wearing a SCRAM bracelet. This may occur if the wearer has tried to tamper with the bracelet. If the bracelet’s infrared sensor reports changes in reading for longer than eight hours, it could be a false reading. Improper calibration, poor maintenance, and mechanical errors may also result in false readings. A judge will review the situation, and may dismiss a probation violation if the device experienced a technical difficulty.
Seek help from a Raleigh DWI attorney if you have questions or issues with your SCRAM bracelet in North Carolina after a DWI conviction. You may be able to fight a false positive violation using expert witnesses such as a forensic analyst to look at the data. Consulting with a lawyer can help you protect your rights while wearing a SCRAM bracelet.