Due to the increase in population in California, there has been a rise in driving under the influence charges. The state of California provides probation supervision to DUI offenders by using SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring to track the rehabilitation progress of those convicted. The monitoring technology allows for customized supervision that provides 24/7 alcohol monitoring and optional house arrest. You can contact the Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm; our lawyers will help you determine whether a SCRAM device would be helpful in your particular case.

California’s Law on DUI

Using a SCRAM bracelet is a substitute punishment to a prison or jail sentence if you were charged with several DUIs. Thus, you must have knowledge of the laws of DUI in California.

In California, according to the California VC 23152(b) VC, it is illegal for an adult individual to drive a car with a concentration level of 0.08% or higher. The code is also known as California's per se' DUI law. The charges are harsh for a person who is 21 years or below and operates a vehicle while intoxicated.

For individuals under the age of 21 years, VC 23140 states that it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a concentration level of 0.05% or higher. Also, California's law on zero-tolerance, as indicated in VC 23136, states that it is unlawful for an individual to drive a car with a Blood Alcohol Concentration level of 0.01% or higher.

What is a SCRAM CAM Device?

SCRAM is a distant alcohol monitoring system formulated and developed by Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Incorporated in Colorado. It comprises a bracelet that a convicted DUI offender puts on all the time. The bracelet cannot be tampered with and is water-resistant.

The bracelet tests the bearer's sweat for BAC levels after every half hour. The device then wirelessly sends the outcome to a regional monitoring center.

The court orders a DUI convict to put on the SCRAM device as an alternative to a jail sentence or a probation condition in a DUI case. The device helps an alcohol addict convicted of DUI get the necessary treatment and proceed with his or her usual routine.

The bracelet is designed to check the user's sweat after every half an hour for the existence of alcohol in his or her body. The collected results are then sent, usually daily, to a monitoring center. If the DUI offender is deemed a high-risk, which might result in the data collected being sent more often, if alcohol consumption is sensed in the user's body, the court may be given notice, normally within a period of 24 hours.

The abbreviation SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. The device was formulated and developed by Alcohol Monitoring Systems in the year 2003. The company manufactures the licenses administration and bracelets of the system to several local agencies.

How does CAM System Function?

SCRAM bracelets use transdermal means of alcohol testing, which implies that it senses the alcohol presence via a route of excretion delivered across the skin. The devices work when a portion of alcohol gets discharged through an individual's skin via their sweat.

The SCRAM device works in this way:

Although alcohol present in the blood excretes the body through the skin, a major percentage is discharged in the urine. A small quantity is also discharged in the saliva and breath. The discharge of alcohol through the saliva and breath assists the breathalyzer devices to measure BAC levels.

A small percentage of consumed alcohol leaves the body by means of insensible perspiration. The process includes a small quantity of ethanol that excretes through the skin pores. Ethanol, also referred to as ethyl alcohol, is a form of alcohol present in alcoholic drinks. Simply put, a person excretes some of the alcohol consumed by sweating, which is measured by the CAM system through the skin.

SCRAM devices are designed to distinguish between alcohol in the surroundings and consumed alcohol. In a few instances, defendants have attempted to fool the system by pouring a drink on it or exposing the device to alcohol. While this will relatively interfere with the bracelet's data, it will display a different pattern and analysis from consumed alcohol. Nonetheless, individuals who are involved in the program must sign a document clearly agreeing to avoid the use of products containing alcohol around or on the bracelet. Accidentally spilling or exposing the SCRAM device to alcoholic drinks will not be deemed a violation of the probation terms. But intentionally attempting to fool the device can lead to you attending court hearings.

The SCRAM bracelet is hard to take off, but it is still possible. However, if you take off the bracelet or tamper with it, the Monitoring Center is notified immediately. SCRAM users are not permitted to immerse the bracelet in water, including bathtubs, hot tubs, and swimming pools. The monitoring center may then give the information to the court, and the judge will then set a hearing date for the probation violation to find out whether you should be sent to jail.

If you are on medication as instructed by a medical professional will not result in an indication of alcohol presence. If you are to take medication that results in intoxication, it would be deemed a violation of the probation terms, despite it coming from the medicine. This also applies to breath sprays, mouthwashes, and other consumer products that contain alcohol.

How Does the SCRAM Program Operate?

The SCRAM program does not prevent a user from leaving their residence. An individual taking part in SCRAM can still attend school, work, attend alcohol programs, and undertake his or her daily regular routine but cannot drink alcohol.

However, the SCRAMx program comprises of both monitoring alcohol use and house arrest. You can be totally confined to your residence or can be customized to operate on a curfew. The court sets the precise terms to clearly show when an offender can go out and the distance he or she can travel to. In cases where an offender takes off during the curfew period, a warning will be sent to the monitoring center.

SCRAM wearers do not receive jail time, which means they do no get recognition for time served while using the bracelet. Because SCRAMx systems are used when a DUI offender is sentenced to court-ordered house arrest regardless of restricted curfews, credit is generally awarded for time served.

The Importance of a SCRAM Device

The main reason for the development of SCRAM bracelets was to provide an offender with a functional alternative to time in jail if convicted. The system was designed to avoid overpopulation in jails and to reduce the expenses incurred while running jail houses. By putting on a SCRAM device, the court may declare you to be free of confinement. Avoiding confinement saves the California state funds and makes room in jailhouses for offenders charged with serious offenses.

The presiding judge has the authority to decide if the SCRAM device serves as enough punishment for your case. If you are 3rd time DUI offender, the decision on whether you will be sentenced to jail or receive a SCRAM device is mainly dependent on your criminal record or your area of residence. However, since SCRAM devices are intended to prevent jail overpopulation and save on funds, you will most likely get a bracelet instead of jail time.

Who is Required to Use a SCRAM Bracelet?

A defendant convicted of DUI may be needed to use a SCRAM CAM device to avoid alcohol consumption as part of the terms of avoiding jail time. This is mostly ordered as part of the terms of DUI probation in California.

To ensure conformity with the ruling, the presiding judge may demand you to use a SCRAM device, which permits the court to confirm that you are abstaining from alcohol consumption. The presiding judge will most likely order the use of SCRAM devices when you have past DUI sentences and serious alcohol addiction or dependence.

Once you are detained for suspicion of DUI, the arresting officer will run a background check to search for any offenses you committed during the past ten years. Several prior DUI convictions show that you make poor decisions in a case involving driving while intoxicated. Constant DUI felons are more likely to be the cause of fatal accidents. Hence, a judge may order you to wear a SCRAM device if you have three or more prior DUI convictions on your record.

The court will order you to wear a bracelet device if you show any signs of alcohol addiction or dependency. You are considered to be an alcohol addict if you exhibit uncontrolled drinking, or your past attempts to get attention for your dependence on alcohol were unsuccessful. Furthermore, if you deliberately agree to wear a SCRAM device, you may avoid confinement and will prove to the court that you are devoted to do away with your alcohol dependence.

More often than not, judges consider the SCRAM bracelets to be accurate as they are scientifically proven. Alcohol presence in your blood or meddling with the device can be used against you in court. To win a case against the reliability of the data from the SCRAM device, you must provide evidence of the malfunction of the anklet and how it results in non-accurate data. If there are witnesses who can bear witness that you did not consume alcoholic drinks or lack of evidence by the prosecution, your SCRAM results will not be admissible in court.

How long do You have to Use a SCRAM CAM bracelet?

The presiding judge can ask you to use the SCRAM anklet or bracelet for any amount of time, which ranges from thirty days to beyond a year.

The judge may consider the following factors when determining how long you must use a SCRAM bracelet for:

  • The seriousness of your current DUI offense,
  • The number of DUI offenses in the past, and
  • The scope of your addiction and dependence on alcohol.

The Cost of SCRAM CAM and Who is to Pay for it?

Mostly, DUI offenders are asked to make payments for the program themselves by the court. But in case the DUI offender is unable to pay for the program, the court may take up part of the required cost.

Local program authorized partners may, at times, lend a part of their products to offenders who cannot afford to pay for the program, at no extra cost. The installation cost of the system mostly ranges from an amount of $50 up to $100. The cost does not include a daily observation fee.

Standard observation fees usually range from:

  • $10 to $12 each day for CAM only, or
  • $13 to $15 each day for Continuous Alcohol Monitoring with house detention monitoring.

The amount may differ depending on your income, the observation period, and if there are SCRAM service providers available in your area.

The Merits and Demerits of a SCRAM Device

The following are the strengths associated with the use of SCRAM devices:

SCRAM bracelets may feel intrusive, but it plays a significant role in helping you refrain from alcohol consumption. Most individuals using the SCRAM bracelets are those convicted of several DUIs and alcohol addicts. Mostly, SCRAM bracelets work as a supplement to rehabilitation instead of serving a jail sentence. Wearing the bracelet is an option or alternative sentence intended to rehabilitate rather than punish you. The judge will give orders that you use the SCRAM device for a period of time adequate to oversee your rehabilitation progress.

If you volunteer or agree to wear the device, you will receive reduced or, in most cases, no jail sentence. Wearing a SCRAM device implies that you may now go to work, attend classes, and other engagements provided you avoid alcohol consumption. Prolonged utilization of the SCRAM bracelet can also assist you in obtaining your California driver’s license because it proves that you have entirely avoided alcohol consumption. Wearing the device verifies to the judge that you are devoted to the safety of other road users by avoiding alcohol consumption. While you attempt to wear the SCRAM bracelet to steer clear of a jail sentence, the device may turn out to be an answer to alcohol addiction or dependency problems.

To the authorities, SCRAM devices are an effective way of reducing costs of maintaining inmates since individuals convicted of DUI do not necessarily have to get time in jail. Also, the use of SCRAM devices is an efficient course of treatment method for alcohol addicts, particularly if the device used is combined together with other types of counseling or treatment. DUI offenders will stop drinking, which will prevent fatal accidents that may result in serious injuries or death.

As much as the devices are crucial to preventing DUI, however, there are some disadvantages to using the SCRAM bracelet.

The leading weakness of SCRAM devices is that the authorities will still monitor you constantly, and you are not allowed to take any measure of alcohol. You can be imprisoned if there is any indication of tampering with the bracelet or alcohol consumption. You will have to bear the distress and physical discomfort of using the SCRAM device all the time until you complete the time set by the court.

Another disadvantage of using the devices is that you are the one responsible for the payments made to the program. The installation cost ranges between fifty dollars and a hundred dollars. There is a standard daily monitoring fixed charge of $10 to $12 paid every day. In case you are unable to pay for the program, the court will take part in the payments for the bracelet. However, making payments for the SCRAM bracelet may not be a great difficulty for you compared to serving a jail sentence.

Similar to other devices, SCRAM bracelets are not flawless. The device sends an alert to a monitoring center once it senses any amount of alcohol on your skin's layers.  The use of perfumes, toiletries, mouth wash, and other cleaning products may register a false-positive result with the monitoring center.

Ignition Interlock Devices as an Alternative to SCRAM

An IID is a device installed into the dashboard of an offender's vehicle. For a motorist to ignite his or her car, he or she is required to blow into the interlock ignition device. This device is almost similar to a Breathalyzer because it detects an amount of alcohol above the 0.08% once the driver blows into the system. If an IID detects an amount of alcohol above 0.08% in the motorist's system, the interlock device will stop the car ignition from working.

Most interlock devices function on battery-powered technology. The battery-operated technology only senses alcohol presence on motorists' breath and is not affected by external interference. The non-interference means that there is very little chance of your IID registering a false positive because of gasoline, cigarette smoke, or perfume. However, the device is designed to record any amount of alcohol blown into it. This means that if you use cleaning products such as mouthwash with alcohol in it, or eat liquor-filled food products, the IID may sense and register alcohol in your breath sample.

IIDs are installed in a way that prevents the driver from tampering with or disconnecting the device. Attempting to interfere with the device, may result in damage to your vehicle or the equipment. However, the devices cannot identify the driver's breath from other passengers. So it is possible to fool the device by asking another person to blow into it. But IIDs usually require samples every time the vehicle is started. Although an indication of the presence of alcohol will not shut down the car, the device will record the outcome, and the DMV and court may likely be aware of this information.

Plus, drivers who are caught tampering with or trying to evade an IID will likely face

revocation of driving privileges and possibly criminal charges.

In what Other Cases can a SCRAM device be used?

In addition to adult DUI sentencing and probation, SCRAM is often used:

As a condition of the bond during pretrial supervision. Pretrial release is where a defendant is released from jail while the criminal case is pending. These pretrial objectives can include protecting the community from crime, providing for the safety of the victim, and ensuring the appearance of the defendant at a later court date.

As part of a specialty court programs, such as the California's Veterans Treatment Court and California drug courts.

As a condition of early parole in California for offenders released early due to jail or prison overcrowding. California parole is a supervised program that takes place when inmates re-enter the community after being released from prison. The 24-hour electronic monitoring system may be implemented for enhanced supervision.

To support offender reentry programs. SCRAM provides agencies with reliable tools to monitor released offenders and enforces restriction orders and curfew requirements.

As part of a sentence or probation condition for domestic violence offenders when alcohol was a contributing factor in their offense. DPOs, who supervise Domestic Violence Court offenders, meet with offenders every month in the office as well as in the offender's home or employment to conduct searches or drug and alcohol testing, as well as compliance of the protective order, depending on their court orders.

To help offenders convicted of violating California's underage drinking and driving laws.

Contact a DUI Attorney Near Me

California has some of the harshest impaired driving DUI laws in the country. If you commit a third or subsequent DUI offense within ten years, you may be sentenced to as many as 16 months in state prison, roughly $18,000 in fines and assessments, and the requirement of a 30-month alcohol treatment program. However, agreeing to wear a SCRAM device can reduce or, in other cases, get rid of your jail sentence. Call the Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm today at 714-740-7866, and we will determine potential factors that could help reduce or, in some cases, even dismiss your DUI case.