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How SCRAM is Changing the Face of California’s DUI Programs

dui attorney los angelesSecure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors (SCRAM devices) are devices that detect the amount of alcohol in a person’s body by way of his or her sweat. These devices are worn around the ankle, similar to the way a bracelet would be worn around a person’s wrist. When a person consumes alcohol, the body process much of the alcohol as urine, and the majority of the remaining alcohol escapes from deep in the lungs through the breath; the latter escape method is what breathalyzers use. A very small amount of alcohol, often less than 1%, turns into an ethanol vapor, which escapes the body through sweat pores. This minuscule amount of vapor may not be detectable by human senses, but the SCRAM mechanism was created for just this purpose.

How Do SCRAM Devices Work?

Each bracelet has two small boxes that fit on either side of an individual’s leg. In terms of size, these boxes could be compared to the size of original pagers.

Throughout each day, the SCRAM device will check for alcohol in a person’s system. These checks occur at random intervals, and are often performed as much as once an hour. At the end of each day, a results report is issued and sent to a monitoring service.

SCRAM devices are water-resistant, thus they are intended to be worn at all times. Each device has built-in measures to report any attempts at tampering with or removing the bracelet. Any misuse of a SCRAM device is included in the daily monitoring report, and the activity is likely to be subject to further penalty from the courts.

When Are SCRAM Devices Used in California DUI Charges?

The courts will often order SCRAM devices for DUI offenders who have priors or other drivers that may show an addiction to alcohol. By design, these instruments measure any alcohol intake, which means individuals who are required to wear them are expected not to consume any alcohol at all. Each DUI case is different, and each decision is ultimately up to the judge, so there are no black and white rules governing which offenders will be required to wear a SCRAM devices.

Many DUI cases do not result in SCRAM orders. These devices are typically reserved for situations that are quite severe and serious. The following are some scenarios in which a California judge might consider ordering a SCRAM unit:

  • The person has been arrested for three or four DUIs
  • The individual has a history of alcoholism
  • Prior attempts to treat the person for alcohol-related problems have failed

What’s the Changing Face of the SCRAM Device in California?

Up until now, the SCRAM device has been used for severe cases of people with a significant history of trouble with alcohol. In the near future, the state of California will be rolling out a program that’s intended to keep individuals sober and actively participating in DUI programs. This new effort will launch initially in Southern California. Stanislaus County will serve as the test county for this new program, which is eventually planned to be launched in five additional counties thereafter.

The new program is designed to target individuals who get kicked out of DUI programs for showing up under the influence. Under the new guidelines, individuals who show up to their alcohol classes after being arrested for a DUI will be required to wear a SCRAM device. The goal is to keep sobriety in the classroom and emphasize the importance of these DUI programs, such that individuals can complete their requirements, rather than being forced out as a result of intoxication. Because the SCRAM device monitors all alcohol intake, individuals who show up to class after consuming alcohol will be monitored for no alcohol at all. The hope is that forced sobriety will lead to success in the program down the road.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, whether it’s your first offense, or you’ve been caught multiple times, it’s best to seek the advice of a California DUI attorney who understands the law and can help you navigate your options. A DUI attorney can further explain how SCRAM devices work, and how your future may be affected by one of these devices, depending on the specifics of your unique case.

Contact Jon Artz today at 310-820-1315.

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