When Do Courts Require SCRAM Bracelets and How Do They Work?

You have probably heard of a SCRAM bracelet device if you or someone you know has been convicted of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). A judge can order the offender to wear the bracelet to make sure that they are complying with the conditions of their parole, probation, or early release from prison.

SCRAM bracelets

SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring. They are bracelets that are attached to a person’s ankle after certain DUI convictions. The purpose of a SCRAM bracelet is to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to enforce court orders that instruct certain offenders not to drink.

In general, the bracelet is paid for by the offender. This is both the cost of purchasing or renting the device and the cost of the monthly monitoring services. It is not cheap. In some jurisdictions, this can cost hundreds of dollars each month. Some courts may offer financial relief if you can prove you are unable to pay. However, this is not a guarantee and many courts will expect you to pay all costs.

In Georgia, there are several authorized providers of the SCRAM bracelet. The type of device used and the cost will depend on which provider you use. Some are offered statewide while others are only options in certain jurisdictions. There are also preferred partners that are selected by SCRAM systems. Selecting one of these providers will also lower the cost of the bracelet and even possibly the monthly monitoring fees.

How do SCRAM Bracelets Work?

The bracelet works by detecting alcohol amounts in a person’s sweat. They can identify even the smallest amount so it is important to not drink at all if you are wearing one. When drinking, most alcohol is metabolized and expelled through the kidneys. However, a small amount, about 1% of the alcohol is secreted through the skin pores. This trace amount is what the bracelet is designed to detect.

The bracelets usually check the levels of alcohol in the wearer’s sweat every hour. The bracelet has a modem or a periodic manual download option that reports results to law enforcement officials who are monitoring the person. The skin is measured with the device and the results are converted into the wearer’s blood alcohol level concentration.

It is considered a violation of the law if the bracelet reports any amount of alcohol in the person’s sweat. It is also a violation if the bracelet is tampered with or ruined. The bracelet is monitored through a regional center. If they get an alert of tampering or alcohol, it is reported to law enforcement agents on duty. They will then come to the area where you are and possibly arrest you.

When do Courts require SCRAM Bracelets?

The purpose of ordering someone to wear a SCRAM bracelet is to cut down on repeat offenders who have multiple DUIs. First-time DUI offenders often do not receive an order to wear a device. However, the judge could decide to order one depending on the severity of the crime. Situations where a SCRAM bracelet may be ordered include the following:

  • They are commonly issued as a requirement of bail or probation. If the wearer drinks and is caught, it will be considered a violation of bail or probation. This can result in the wearer being sentenced to prison time or getting heavier fines.
  • The bracelets can also be court-ordered at different stages of a criminal conviction. A defendant may be required to wear one as a condition of a pretrial release. This is when a defendant is not held in prison before their trial starts. They will be monitored and if they break the conditions of the release, like drinking, they will be detained and wait in prison for their trial.
  • A SCRAM bracelet can also be assigned post-conviction. They may be a condition of parole or probation or they can be part of the sentence for a conviction of multiple DUIs.

SCRAM bracelets can have false positives. They can sometimes detect if the wearer has used rubbing alcohol or any other product with alcohol. If this happens, the officers that arrive at your location can assess the situation. They may give you an additional test to check your blood alcohol content (BAC). Some doctors also recommend that SCRAM bracelets should not be issued to people with certain medical conditions like heart defects or a history of strokes.