As part of probation for driving under the influence (DUI) in California, the defendant may be required to wear an ankle monitoring system known as a SCRAM device. The SCRAM device provides alcohol monitoring and location monitoring for individuals on probation or house arrest. Drinking alcohol while using a SCRAM device will be recorded and reported to the court.
There are several restrictions, penalties, and costs associated with a drunk driving conviction in California. A strong legal defense can help you avoid a DUI conviction or get your charges reduced. If you have questions about probation after an arrest for impaired driving in California, talk to an East Bay DUI lawyer for legal advice.
SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring
Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) is a company that provides monitoring devices and services for courts and probation departments in a number of states, including most counties in California. The most common device used is the Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) system. The CAM is an ankle monitor that automatically tests the wearer for alcohol every 30 seconds.
The SCRAM monitor tests perspiration for the presence of alcohol and automatically uploads testing data to the SCRAM monitoring center. This allows individuals who are on alcohol restrictions to be tested and monitored without in-person testing. Alcohol monitoring is also continuous, so the individual generally cannot find a way to drink around the tests without violating the terms of probation.
According to the company, SCRAM users have 99.4% compliance with no drinking and no tampering with the device. The ankle monitor may reduce DUI recidivism for high-risk offenders but up to 45%. The deterrent effect was a factor for 88% of participants that reported the device helped stop them from drinking.
Testing for the Presence of Alcohol
When a person consumes alcohol, it is absorbed through the organs and into the bloodstream. The body processes the alcohol, metabolizing alcohol in the liver and dispersing some alcohol through the sweat, lungs, or urine. The presence of alcohol can be tested in several ways, including:
- Urine tests
- Blood tests
- Breath tests
- Skin testing
In a drunk driving traffic stop, the most commonly used device for testing alcohol is the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device. The roadside breathalyzer can test the driver's breath for the presence of alcohol to give the police cause to make an arrest. However, these PAS tests are not used for evidence of the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) in court.
For evidence that the driver was over the legal limit, police departments take chemical test samples after the arrest. This includes testing at the police station or having a blood sample drawn. Alcohol is most commonly tested through breath testing or blood testing. Urine testing is not commonly used in DUI arrests but can be used during probation to test for the presence of alcohol or drugs.
Skin tests for alcohol are generally limited to SCRAM-type monitoring. The device uses transdermal testing to detect alcohol coming through the body in the person's sweat. Even if the individual does not feel like they are sweating, they may sweat out some alcohol after drinking, which can be picked up by continuous monitoring devices.
SCRAM Location Monitoring and House Arrest
A SCRAM device can also utilize location-based monitoring to enforce house arrest. With house arrest monitoring, the device will report when it goes beyond a limited distance from the defendant's home. House arrest is a jail alternative that restricts movement but allows the defendant to serve out jail time at home.
How Much Does a SCRAM CAM Cost?
Courts and law enforcement in California use the 3rd-party provider, SCRAM, to produce, install, and monitor CAM devices. In general, users have to pay for the SCRAM installation and monitoring themselves. The installation fee may be up to $100 and daily monitoring can be $10 or more. This means that the cost of alcohol monitoring for 90 days may be more than $1,000.
If the defendant cannot afford a SCRAM device because of limited income or lack of financial resources, the state may cover a portion of the fees. Some people may be able to qualify for SCRAM monitoring at no cost, depending on income.
How Long Do I Have to Wear a SCRAM?
The amount of time you may have to wear a SCRAM device depends on the criminal charges, prior offenses, alcohol violations, and terms of probation. The monitoring period for a first-time offense for low-risk offenders may be from 30 days to 90 days. For high-risk, habitual offenders with multiple DUIs, a judge may require SCRAM monitoring for 3 months to a year. An alcohol violation may extend the monitoring period or may result in loss of probation.
Reporting Alcohol Consumption or Ankle Bracelet Removal
Alcohol tests and tampering attempts will be reported to the Regional Monitoring Center. The SCRAM monitoring center has a record of tests, including tests where alcohol was detected. These testing violations will be reported to the court. There are anti-tampering measures installed in the SCRAM and attempting to remove the device will be recorded and reported.
Experienced DUI Defense in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Even if the defendant can avoid jail time, the restrictions and costs of a DUI conviction can be severe. If you are arrested for a DUI anywhere in Alameda or Contra Costa counties, Lynn Gorelick understands the potential DUI penalties involved. With more than 37 years of DUI experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the law and has the skills required to fight DUI charges.