If you are facing 3rd or 4th DUI conviction in the state of California, you are likely to spend several years behind bars. A 4th DUI offense is treated as a felony, and it carries even more penalties. Many people find this sentence harsh, which is why at The DUI Defense Attorney, we help our clients get alternative sentencing. The use of Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, popularly known as SCRAM, is among the few alternatives that could greatly benefit you. If you are in Van Nuys, CA, and would want to know more about alternative sentencing, we are always ready to help.

An Overview of what SCRAM CAM System is and its Usefulness

SCRAM is a monitoring system comprising a tamper-proof ankle bracelet. When worn, the bracelet will always test its wearer's BAC levels through sweat every half an hour. The results are then transmitted wirelessly to a local monitoring location.

The remote device system is developed and distributed by Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. of Colorado. Those who use it receive orders from the court as alternatives to jail or a probation condition for people facing DUI charges in the state. With the device in place, the offender can get rehabilitation treatment for abuse of alcohol.  They could also carry on with their day-to-day lives.

If you receive a court order to have the SCRAM installed, the court will want you to wear the bracelet 24/7. As mentioned above, the device is tamper-proof as well as water-resistant. It can, therefore, be worn throughout the day and night with no worries. After the installation, the bracelet will test and submit your BAC results every half an hour. The court may have the data of high-risk DUI offenders conveyed more frequently.

In case alcohol is detected in the offender's system, the system notifies the court within 24 hours. The offenses that would necessitate the use of this program are, for instance:

  • Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as provided under Section 23152(a) of California Vehicle Code
  • Operating with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08% or more, as provided under Section 23152(b) of the California Vehicle Code
  • Driving under the influence and causing injury, as provided under Section 23153 of California Vehicle Code
  • All the other offenses that revolve around the use of alcohol

There is a similar device that is installed just the same way as SCRAM but has a radio frequency called SCRAMX. SCRAMX is also an ankle bracelet but one that uses a radio frequency. It helps with house-arrests. The device is also a monitoring system and can be used to check for alcohol in the offender's system as well as whether or not the offender is at home.

Why SCRAM Device?

SCRAM devices help because of how expensive and overpopulated jails are. With the use of a SCRAM device, the court can easily avoid sending more offenders to prison, most especially DUI offenders. The device saves the state money and at the same tie, opens up more room for offenders with more severe charges.

The primary purpose of SCRAM devices in the state of California was to provide an alternative to locking DUI offenders up. If an offender is facing a 3rd DUI conviction, for instance, the court can decide to send them to jail or allow them alternative sentencing. It depends on their criminal record and where they live. The final decision on whether the bracelet will be enough always rests with the judge. 

There are several things DJUI offenders should note before they can think of alternative sentencing. These are:

  • The judge will always have the final say on how the court will give your sentence. He/she will use your background and criminal record to decide on whether or not to send you to jail for DUI.
  • If you have several prior DUI convictions that are close enough, the judge may decide that the SCRAM device will not be enough to resolve your alcohol problem.
  • If, however, your DUI convictions are far apart, or your criminal record is somewhat clean, the judge may feel that you deserve time off jail. With that, he/she will order you to have a SCRAM device installed.

How SCRAM Cam System Works

The SCRAM Cam system is designed to use transdermal for testing alcohol. Transdermal, in this case, means that testing is through the wearer's skin. The continuous alcohol monitoring system works with the belief that excretion of a slight portion of the alcohol a person consumes happens through their skin via their sweat. 

The alcohol a person consumes goes into their bloodstream, and then it is excreted from their body. Excretion of much of the alcohol taken happens through urine. However, there is a little amount that goes out through the consumer's breath, saliva, and sweat. That is the reason why drunk driving breath tests in the state are trusted to provide reliable results when testing the existence of alcohol in one's bloodstream.

The 1% of alcohol ingested that goes out through sweat is what enables the CAM system to measure traces of alcohol via the skin of the consumer's ankle. A SCRAM system is, therefore, a reliable way of monitoring whether or not the DUI offender is still consuming alcohol even while on probation.

Who Receives the Order to Put on a SCRAM Cam?

A DUI offender may be obligated by the court to wear the SCRAM device if not drinking is one of the conditions of not spending time in jail. In most cases, the requirement to have a SCRAM device is for offenders who get DUI probation. The court expects the defendant to comply with the directive if they do not want to lose the probation. To decrease the chances of the offender consuming any alcohol while on probation, the judge might order them to install a SCRAM device. The device allows California courts to confirm that the offender is indeed keeping off alcohol use.

Other people who may be required to put on SCRAM devices are those facing previous DUI convictions or those that are addicted or dependent on alcohol.

California Cases where a SCRAM Device can be Used

There are several instances when a court can order a person to wear the SCRAM device. These are, for example:

  • After a DUI Conviction and probation
  • As a condition for posting bond during pre-trial supervision
  • It could be used as part of a particular court program like a Military Diversion, California Drug Court, and the State’s Veterans Court
  • It could also be used as a condition for earlier parole in the state of California. In this case, it will apply to DUI offenders who get released earlier from prison or jail due to such reason as overcrowding
  • It can be used to support the defendant's re-entry programs
  • It can work as part of conviction or condition for probation for violent domestic offenders. It will be useful if there is proof that alcohol was the main causative factor in the offense
  • It could be used to help defendants sentenced for violating the state’s juvenile drunk driving statutes

The period within which a judge would order an offender to wear a SCRAM bracelet depends on several factors. Typically, the period ranges from one month to not more than one year. Some of the factors a judge might consider in determining the length of period a DUI defendant must wear the device are, for instance:

  • The gravity of the underlying DUI crime
  • The amount of previous DUI convictions, the defendant, has
  • The severity of his/her alcohol problem

Costs Associated with SCRAM Cam Devices

All the costs associated with SCRAM devices are passed on to the offender. The offender will be required to meet the costs of the SCRAM program, installation, and maintenance. However, if there is evidence that the defendant is indigent and therefore unable to cater to all the costs, the court will take care of a share of the costs. Sometimes the local authorized SCRAM service providers may lend out a small part of their products to poor defendants at no charge.

Installation costs generally range between $50 and $100. In addition to that, there will be a monitoring fee that the offender will be required to meet on a day-to-day basis. On average, the monitoring fee ranges from:

  • Between $10 and $12 daily for the Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system alone
  • Between $13 and $15 daily for the CAM system with regular monitoring for house arrests

However, the costs vary greatly and will depend on the following:

  • The amount of money the offender makes
  • The length of the required monitoring period
  • Whether or not the SCRAM provider is within the offender’s location

If the court has ordered you to have the SCRAM device installed, you should be able to get the system from a local service provider. There are many such service providers available in different parts of the country. An offender is expected to get in touch with their local SCRAM device service provider in the state as soon as the judge issues the order.

Your DUI defense attorney will help a lot with this. Other than negotiating a favorable period for you to wear the device, he/she will get in touch with the local SCRAM provider. It helps to have an experienced DUI defense attorney by your side as he/she will be conversant with the entire process.

SCRAM Device after Installation

Many questions arise on what the offender can do and not do after the installation of the SCRAM device. It is crucial to work closely with your DUI defense attorney. It helps to avoid something that will call for additional sentencing or one that could compromise your probation.

One thing for sure is that the offender will not be able to remove the SCRAM device. Installation of the device happens in such a manner that it is only the SCRAM service provider that will be able to remove it. Any attempt to remove the SCRAM device, or tamper with it will be conveyed wirelessly to the local Monitoring Center.

Once the center received information that the offender is trying to remove or has removed the device, they will report it to the court immediately. If it is established that you indeed tried to remove, removed, or tampered with the device, the court will plan a hearing. This hearing will be the same as a probation violation hearing. The outcome of the trial will determine whether or not the offender will be sent to jail.

The other thing offenders wearing SCRAM devices worry about is whether or not they will be able to attend a school or work with the device. If you are on the SCRAM program and not on the SCRAMx program, you should be able to carry on with your life as you usually do. This means that you are not under house arrest, and so you can go on with your daily activities. You can attend school, go to the recommended DUI treatment program and go to work, among other things you usually do.

The court will, however, give you a list of conditions you must adhere to. Some of these include not consuming any alcohol within the period of this program. The court can also decide on how far you can go. If you go more than you are allowed, the device will generate an alert, and you might lose your chance of spending your sentence out of jail.

Note that with a SCRAM program, you will not get any credit for the time you served by putting on the CAM device. This is because SCRAM device wearers are usually not confined. SCRAMx wearers will get some credit for the time they served when wearing the SCRAM device because their confinement is typically under house arrest.

Other offenders worry about bathing or taking a shower with the SCRAM monitoring device. It is important to remember that the device is not only tamper-proof but also water-resistant. This means that a person wearing the device should be able to take a shower without worrying about damaging the equipment.

However, they will not be able to take a bath. Wearers of SCRAM devices are not permitted to immerse the device in water. This also means that you cannot use bathtubs, swimming pools, and hot tubs within the period of the program.

Again, the part around where the device is installed needs to be kept clean for better results.

Frequently Asked Questions About SCRAM Devices

How Discrete are SCRAM Devices?

The worry of many people is whether or not other people will know that they are wearing a SCRAM monitoring system. The truth is that the device system makes a slight buzzing every 30 minutes when taking and conveying a reading. The buzzing sound can be heard, but generally, the device is reported to be very discreet. No one needs to know that you are wearing it if you prefer to keep it a secret.

What Happens When Someone Spills Alcohol on Me?

The good thing about the SCRAM system is that it can know the difference concerning alcohol that has been consumed and one that is within your environment. If you are in a place where people are drinking alcohol, or someone spills a drink on you, the reading will not register that you have consumed alcohol. Spilling the drink on the system will spike the system's data, but the reading will indicate a distinct pattern than it shows when you have consumed alcohol.

Offenders who are planning to try and trick the system by consuming alcohol then spilling some on the bracelet/anklet, the court will always know. Again, SCRAM service providers will always have wearers of the system agree to something. The signed agreement will not allow them to use any product containing alcohol as long as they are wearing the device.

California courts will consider exposing the SCRAM to alcohol as a significant violation. Attempting to trick the system into conveying the wrong reading will also be treated as a violation and can trigger court sanctions.

What of medications containing alcohol?

Some medicines have alcohol in them, and the offender could get a prescription within the program period. What you should know is that if you take prescribed doses as directed by the pharmacist, it will not register an incorrect positive result on the SCRAM device. A person needs to ingest more of such medications to get intoxicated.

If that were to happen, their actions would be a breach of the court order. It would be so even if there is proof that the intoxication came from prescribed medication.

Note that mouthwashes and breath sprays, as well as other consumable products, contain alcohol in them. These should be taken as directed by the manufacturer.

Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

Getting alternative sentencing comes with great relief for DUI offenders who are likely to spend several years in jail. Alternative sentencing could come as a form of mandatory requirement to wear a SCRAM Device for a period between 30 days to one year. This could sound easy and simple, but there are a lot of underlying issues the offender must know before they can have the SCRAM device installed. The DUI Defense Attorney has a competent team of defense attorneys who can help you understand how the systems work. Call our Van Nuys DUI lawyer at 818-253-1913 if you are in Van Nuys, CA.