Why SCRAM Matters

One of the newest innovations in DWI law is the use of SCRAM devices.  SCRAM, or Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, has been adopted by multiple states nationwide as an alternative to jail for serious DWI offenders.  It has the advantage of saving the state the money and resources of sending a person to jail, while at the same time ensures that they do not drink and drive.  It is advantageous for the person who was charged because it allows them to stay out of jail, and lets them continue with their career and family life.  The mutually advantageous nature of SCRAM can help some DWI offenders in staying out of jail.  It has the additional benefit of providing accountability to individuals who are trying to stop drinking alcohol.

Two Ways to Get On SCRAM

There are two ways for you to end up using SCRAM.  A judge sentencing you under Level 1 or Level 2 has the option of requiring you to submit to a minimum of 120 days or 90 days, respectively.  If a judge does this, then he or she can keep you out of jail if you are a Level 2 offender, and minimize your time in jail if you are a Level 1 offender.  When sentenced to continuous blood alcohol monitoring, you don’t have any choice in the matter.  It is either comply with the judge’s decision or go to jail.  The other way for you get SCRAM is for you to voluntarily submit to it before conviction, in the hopes that the judge will sentence you to continue the SCRAM program, thus minimizing or avoiding jail time.

A judge can give you credit for up to 60 days of pre conviction continuous alcohol monitoring.  Of course, there is no guarantee that the judge will do this, so there is a risk that you could still go to jail if you were a Level 2 offender.  We recommend SCRAM as an option for clients who face sentencing as Level 1 or Level 2 offenders.  We typically don’t recommend it for those who face sentencing at Level 3, 4, or 5, because it is not worth the time and expense, and would probably not help them reduce their punishment.  Of course, if a person wanted to use SCRAM to help them beat an alcohol addiction problem, that would also be a good use for it as well.

How the System Works

So how does this system work?  The device monitors the transdermal release of alcohol.  When a person consumes alcohol, the large majority of it is metabolized by the body.  However,their body releases a portion of it through the breath, sweat, and urine.  The Intoxilyzer takes advantage of this phenomena by testing the amount of alcohol in the breath, and using an algorithm to determine the amount of alcohol in the blood.  The SCRAM uses the sweat released by the skin to monitor for alcohol.  Even when it is not hot, your body is still excreting sweat.  The device monitors the alcohol content of this sweat to determine if you have consumed any alcohol.

You should be aware that other types of chemicals can cause problems for you by causing the alcohol monitoring device to have a false positive reading.  For instance, mouthwash often contains alcohol, and using this type of mouthwash can result in a reading even though it is a different kind of alcohol.  Other chemicals, such as the acetone used in finger nail polish remover, can also set it off.  Of course, you have to stay away from other people drinking alcohol, because as slight spill could result in you getting a positive reading.

There are other limits to your lifestyle that SCRAM may impose as well.  For instance, while the device is water resistant, and safe to wear in the shower, you can not go swimming while wearing the device, since you should not immerse it in water.  You must wear the device constantly.  You wear the device around the ankle, so you may wear long pants to cover the device.  Your SCRAM provider may request that you visit their facility every so often to get the device calibrated.


There are different options that you may have about collecting the data off of your monitor.  One requires you to hook the device to a computer for the information to be uploaded over the Internet.  Another option is a wireless base station that will automatically upload the information when you walk by.  You should install the base station in your house so that you will naturally walk past it.  Even if you don’t upload the data, the device stores up to 7 days of information before requiring an upload.

What Can Cause Problems on SCRAM

One of the words that describes the device is “secure.”  It resists any tampering or removal.  If you attempt to remove the device, it will record it.  If you attempt to tamper with the device, it will record it.  The good news is that you wear the SCRAM device for a limited amount of time.  Don’t consume alcohol or try to remove or tamper with the device and you can minimize the time on SCRAM..  The other bit of good news is that if your sentence is SCRAM, you are not in jail.  If you voluntarily submit to SCRAM, you reduce the chance of jail.

As mentioned above, SCRAM may not keep you out of jail.  However, it is a powerful option that man reduce a potential penalty you face.  If you have any questions about how our law firm can help with your DWI charge, give us a call.  We would be glad to meet with you about your case.