S.C.R.A.M. is a specialized type of electronic monitoring usually given to people charged with DUI or Drunk Driving offenses. SCRAM is an acronym meaning Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. The device looks like a bracelet, worn against the skin around the ankle, which takes intermittent samples of a person’s sweat, often every thirty minutes. SCRAM works by by measuring gas alcohol concentration found over the skin. The device then analyzes the sample for the presence of ethanol, or alcohol. If the device finds a positive sample, it will take readings more frequently. The SCRAM device takes the alcohol content readings and reports the alcohol content in a “TAC” – or a “transdermal alcohol content.” In theory, the TAC is supposed equate to the “BAC” or “blood alcohol concentration.” The data is stored in the SCRAM device until it is downloaded and transmitted to the agency who administers the unit. The data is memorialized and provided in a graph to be analyzed by the supervising agency. If the system represents that a wearer tests positive for alcohol, the violation is then referred to the Judge or probation officer who is responsible for supervising the person wearing the device.
The SCRAM bracelet, or “tether,” was invented and is owned by Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS) located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Invented in approximately 1993 and introduced to the criminal justice system market by AMS in approximately 2003, the SCRAM devise is currently used in 48 states, including Nevada. At any given time there are approximately 200,000 people wearing a SCRAM device. Employees of AMS are trained, certified and are solely responsible for analyzing and interpreting the data collected by the SCRAM device.
AMS leases the SCRAM device and the administrative services required to utilize it to local authorized service providers. Since it came to be in use, SCRAM has had undergone major upgrades to its system. In 2008 the SCRAM II was introduced which used the same technology but was smaller, lighter and the two components fit into one case instead of two cases. In 2010 AMS introduced the SCRAMx which combined the alcohol monitoring with house arrest services.
The SCRAM bracelet is essentially tamper proof and has several anti-tampering devices installed. It is virtually impossible to remove the SCRAM device without alerting the monitoring agency. For instance, the clip which secures the device must be physically damaged or destroyed in order to remove the tether. The SCRAM device also constantly monitors the skin temperature to ensure it is strapped to a person, as well as an infrared device which measures the distance voltage which remains constant unless tampered with. If any of these readings come back askew of preset parameters an alert is generated which is then transmitted to the service provider.False Positives in a SCRAM device
The SCRAM utilizes fuel cell technology to detect alcohol in the perspiration. This technology is essentially the same as that used in a handheld Preliminary Breath Test used by the police in roadside field sobriety tests. One important drawback with this technology and the reason that handheld preliminary breath tests are unreliable and inadmissible in Court, is that it does not specify the reading to ethyl alcohol, the type of alcohol that is consumed by people in alcoholic beverages. Most people do not realize that there are many other types of alcohol that will cause inaccurate readings. For instance, Isopropyl alcohol is an alcohol commonly found in household cleaning products. Methanol is the primary ingredient in the fuel burned by automotive engines. Cetyl alcohol is found in many detergents, body washes and hand and body lotions. Any one of these, and several others, can be detected by the SCRAM device and cause a false positive reading.DEFENDING A SCRAM VIOLATION ALLEGATION
If there is an allegation that an individual has violated an Order of the Court order by drinking when wearing the SCRAM bracelet, it is important to have experienced representation on your side. It is imperative that the person alleged to have committed the violation not make any admissions to authorities and to be represented at a hearing on the violation allegation. An attorney representing the person must have knowledge of the science supporting transdermal alcohol testing and be familiar with both the SCRAM unit and how it operates. Prior to the hearing it is important for the attorney representing the person accused of violating the Court’s Order to request, receive and review all relevant supporting documentation for the SCRAM unit. An experienced attorney can review the several different notifications generated for the device and examine them for alcohol interfereants, temperature warning messages, infrared distance warnings message and bracelet damage messages. In some cases there is a logical explanation for a false positive SCRAM result. Without an explanation based on educated research, the Judge will often automatically rely on the machines erroneous determination that the wearer has been drinking. In other instances, it may be advisable for the attorney representing the person accused of drinking while under supervision of a SCRAM device to obtain a hair test for alcohol (which are available in some circumstances and can detect the presence of alcohol) and/or a polygraphs examination (“lie detector” test).
If you need an experienced Las Vegas Criminal Attorney who has experience defending against charges of SCRAM bracelet violations, contact Attorney Josh Tomsheck at the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck today.