DUI Ankle Bracelets


Many people that have been arrested for DUI are asked by the preliminary court hearing to abstain from any use of alcohol before their case is brought before the judge. There are also times when the court will require abstinence a condition of the accused’s probation. However, monitoring several people 24 hours a day 7 days a week while they wait for the case to go to trial is unreasonable if not impossible. Different ideas, such as random breathalyzer testing, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and other items have tried to monitor individuals, but these methods are not effective. Thus, technology came to the aid of the courts.


SCRAM Devices


A device called Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) was developed to monitor a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) on a continuous basis. The SCRAM is worn around the person’s ankle, similar to an anklet, and measures the alcohol content via the skin. The person’s perspiration is used in a similar method to breath for a breathalyzer or blood for a chemical test. Every hour the machine measures the person’s BAC, storing the information for later use.


There is some concern with doctors and DUI attorneys alike about the accuracy of this method. The technique used to calculate the BAC from perspiration is quite complicated and has several variables that affect its outcome. For these reasons, the SCRAM is designed mainly to prove or disprove a person’s abstinence from alcohol rather than report a true BAC number.


Use of the Device


The SCRAM has the ability to communicate with a wireless modem placed within the person’s home. According to the agency that monitors the information from the device, the bracelet will send a report to the modem which then transfers the information to a computer. The computer tracks and sorts the information on multiple DUI offenders and sends this data to the appropriate state agency via the internet.


Thanks to the improvement in the technology used to track the alcohol in the person’s body, as well as the wireless internet devices that are now readily available, the SCRAM became a feasible option to the older methods of keeping tabs on people that were arrested for DUI.


If the machine has a positive reading for alcohol then the hourly measurements will change and start to occur every 30 minutes. Since it is possible to spill alcohol onto the device and get a positive reading, the increased frequency of the measurements is designed to find out if the person is consuming excessive alcohol of if there was indeed some type of accident.


Costs of the Device


Like other punishments enforced on DUI offenders, the cost of the equipment and associated fees are passed along to the defendant. The purchase and installation of the device averages about $100. In addition to the initial costs there are daily fees which range for $12 to $20, quickly adding up over a month’s time.


Adoption of SCRAM


The SCRAM device is used by courts in drunken driving cases all across the country. The vast majority of states have adopted the use of the machine into their legal procedures. Some counties use the device on a strictly voluntary basis. However, the courts have made it advantageous to the DUI offender to agree to the use of the device.


  • If a person is involved in a felony DUI, the amount of the person’s bond can be lowered by agreeing to the SCRAM.
  • People have been offered reduced prison time if they agree to wear a SCRAM for a predetermined length of time.
  • People arrested for their second DUI offense were given the option of reducing their charge to reckless driving in exchange for having the SCRAM device.


Problems with the SCRAM Methods


While it seems like a good idea in theory the SCRAM machine has some problems. The biggest complaint from experts is the fact that the device cannot separate alcohols from beverages and alcohols from other sources. Many toiletry items used by a great number of people contain ethanol. Ethanol is the prime ingredient in adult beverages that sets off the SCRAM’s BAC meter. In addition, since device is measuring ethanol found on the skin, it is possible that the machine will pick up some trace amounts of ethanol found in the air around the person.



By Richard Jacobs

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