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DUI Penalties: What is a SCRAM Ankle Bracelet?

SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring Bracelet
If you have been convicted of a DUI offense in Ohio, you may be able to avoid some jail time in exchange for wearing a SCRAM Ankle Bracelet. In 2004, Ohio became the first state in the country to sign “continuous alcohol monitoring” into sentencing laws for DUI and other alcohol offenders in Ohio. Now, the SCRAM program is in place in 35 states and 600 court jurisdictions across the country, and more than sixty thousand DUI offenders have used the monitoring devices. These ankle bracelets provide a way for the court to oversee people who have been ordered not to drink alcohol at any time.

The SCRAM Ankle Bracelet

The acronym S.C.R.A.M. stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring. The device works similarly to a Breathalyzer by determining the level of alcohol, if any, in a person’s body, by gathering data from the surface of your skin and measuring the alcohol vapor excreted by the body through sweat. The device looks like a bracelet that has two small boxes that fit on either side of the leg. While most of the alcohol you consume is metabolized by your liver, some small amounts of alcohol are eliminated through your breath, urine, and skin.  These transdermal readings are highly correlated with breath alcohol measurements, but they lag behind your breath alcohol levels by about an hour or more because of how long it takes for your body to expel alcohol through perspiration. You must wear the bracelet on your ankle 24 hours a day 7 days a week as part of your DUI sentence. If you are ordered to wear a SCRAM bracelet as part of your sentence, you must completely avoid alcohol. If you have any alcohol in your system, the SCRAM bracelet will send out an alert to your probation officer that you are breaking your probation terms. As part of your agreement with the court, the device is monitored remotely by this probation officer. Because of the device’s extreme sensitivity, you will also be prohibited from using any products that may contain alcohol, such as hairspray, lotions, shampoos, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. The use of any of these products may cause the SCRAM device to detect the presence of alcohol in your sweat, causing a violation of your order which could potentially send you to jail.

While SCRAM bracelets are an expensive form of punishment by the court, it may also be able to keep you out of jail or prison.

Who Must Wear a SCRAM bracelet?

In Ohio, courts will usually only use SCRAM bracelets for repeat DUI/OVI offenders, and it is fairly rare as part of the punishment for a first-time DUI offense. In Ohio, judges will often order or allow the use of a SCRAM bracelet as one of the conditions for your parole, probation, or early release if you have been convicted of driving under the influence. It is very common for the court to order you to wear the SCRAM device as part of your alcohol treatment program if you have an addiction problem and are a repeat DUI offender so that the court can monitor your long-term and ensure that you are completely abstaining from alcohol as ordered by the court. At this point, it will be impossible for you to consume any alcohol without the court knowing, and without it leading to additional penalties for the violation. If the court has determined that you have shown a severe problem with consuming alcohol, it can order you not to drink any alcohol, and the SCRAM bracelet can be a more convenient option for abiding by the order by allowing you to avoid the onerous in-person testing.

SCRAM is also used by the court as a condition of limited driving privileges if you have violated an ignition interlock order. SCRAM bracelets are most often used by the court so that DUI/OVI offenders are able to maintain their employment, which helps with rehabilitation. A court may choose to allow you to wear a SCRAM bracelet in lieu of jail time or in conjunction with your alcohol treatment plan. Because the device will detect any amount of alcohol that you may consume, there is no way for you to cheat while wearing the device, so the court is able to be certain that you are completely abstaining from alcohol as ordered or you would be detected. If your probation officer detects any violation of this order from a positive reading by your SCRAM bracelet, they can and will take immediate action, including potentially putting you in jail for the time that was waived in exchange for wearing the bracelet.

While there is not any fixed period of time for wearing a SCRAM bracelet, DUI defendants who wear them generally wear them for at least 1 month and no longer than 1 year.

Who Will Pay for the SCRAM Device?

Usually, as the DUI offender, you will be responsible for paying for the SCRAM bracelet service. You will be required to pay the purchase of or a deposit on the SCRAM bracelet itself, as well as the required monthly monitoring services. The average cost of using a SCRAM ankle bracelet in Ohio is approximately eleven dollars ($11.00) per day which results in a monthly monitoring fee of more than $300, plus a one hundred dollar ($100.00) installation fee. You will also be responsible for paying for any maintenance and removal costs. Unfortunately, SCRAM bracelets are very expensive and may cost up to several hundreds of dollars per month, although if you are able to prove that you are unable to pay for your SCRAM device, you may be able to have your fees covered so that you are still able to obtain the device.

If you are ordered to wear a SCRAM ankle bracelet as a condition of parole or probation, you should talk to your DUI defense attorney who can explain the legal risks and benefits of alcohol monitoring. If you are charged with a SCRAM violation, you will need an attorney who understands how the technology works and how to challenge SCRAM evidence in court.