S.C.R.A.M. - (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor)
First They Make You Take These Tests That Are Designed For
You to Fail, and Then They Take Your License Away.
And Now You May Be Forced To Wear A SCRAM!
You’re awaiting trial for your DWI arrest. You’ve just
paid bond. As a condition of your release, you have been
ordered to abstain from alcohol. If you drink, your bond
will be revoked.
In past years, courts would have monitored your alcohol
intake by one of several different methods: 1) by ordering
you to come into a court official’s office daily for urine
analysis, 2) by subjecting you to random alcohol
screenings, or 3) by installing breath reading equipment
in your home.
With the introduction of SCRAM (a Secure Continuous Remote
Alcohol Monitor), the court can now monitor your alcohol
intake continuously, without ordering you to come in for
So, what does this new technology
mean for you?
If the court orders you to wear a SCRAM device, you will
be fitted with a tamper-resistant ankle bracelet made up
of two boxes. One box will conduct the tests that will
compute your BAC. The second box stores the calculations
and transmits the data to the correct law enforcement
The SCRAM device will monitor your BAC at least every
hour. If the device detects any alcohol in your system,
the tests will then be performed every thirty minutes.
When would a court order me to
wear a SCRAM device?
A court might order you to be fitted with SCRAM while you
are out on bond awaiting trial, or as a condition of your
probation. Some courts will allow a convicted offender to
choose to be fitted with SCRAM in lieu of jail time.
Is it expensive?
SCRAM can be costly depending on how long you are ordered
to wear it. Upon the court’s order for you to be fitted
with the device, you will be required to pay a refundable
$100 deposit, a $75 fitting fee, and approximately $84 per
week of use. These fees must all be paid up front.
Can it be tampered with?
No. The device has a sensor designed to detect any
attempts at tampering. If you attempt to tamper with the
device, the computer will store and relay the date and
time of the attempted tampering to the law enforcement
Is the device ever wrong?
The reliability of SCRAM has been called into question.
While the producers of the device claim it to be a
scientifically valid method for determining blood alcohol
content, there are those who have not yet been persuaded.
In December of 2004, a judge in Michigan dismissed a case
involving the usage of the SCRAM device by holding that it
lacked scientific reliability.
The defendant in the case was out on bond awaiting trial
when SCRAM began to send reports with data showing
consumption of alcohol over a two-day period. The
defendant denied drinking, and underwent a polygraph test.
During the trial, an expert witness explained how the
device might render inaccurate results. Apparently, while
the method of computing BAC from the skin has been around
since the 1930s, the device itself does not allow for
If the machine begins to give a false positive, it could
be because of food converting to alcohol in the body.
Additionally, the technology used by the machine has been
shown to be non-specific to beverage alcohol. This means
it is difficult to determine whether positive readings
came from a drink or from food prepared with alcohol.
If I have been ordered to wear a
SCRAM device and my bond gets revoked due to a positive
result, is there any way to fight it?
Like all BAC computations, the SCRAM device is based on
technology that assumes certain ratios and percentages
based on the “average” individual. Anytime the BAC is
calculated by a means other than a blood test, there is a
chance for error.
SCRAM depends on the assumptions that the average person
emits one liter of perspiration per day, and that five
percent of everything a person drinks is emitted through
the skin in the form of perspiration. This perspiration is
emitted primarily unnoticeably.
As with urine analysis and breath reading equipment,
assumptions based on the average person are not always
If your bond is revoked based upon a positive reading,
your attorney can fight the case by highlighting the
problems with technology based on average assumptions.
©2006 Law Office of Ken Gibson
Licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.
Austin Texas DWI Criminal Defense Attorney
700 Lavaca, Suite 1010
Austin, Texas 78701
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