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Colorado DUI Issues – Understanding The SCRAM Device

An Alcohol Monitoring Bracelet for DUI Offenders In Colorado

SCRAM stands for “Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor”. The SCRAM device is a tamper-resistant bracelet that a DUI offender wears around his/her ankle. The SCRAM bracelet tests the DUI offender’s sweat for alcohol at least once per hour. The SCRAM bracelet wirelessly transmits the results at least once per day via the SCRAM Modem to a regional monitoring center.

The SCRAM device is an example of “transdermal alcohol testing.” Alcohol absorbed in the bloodstream is ultimately eliminated from the body either through metabolism or through excretion (via the breath, urine, sweat and saliva). About 1% of the ingested alcohol escapes the body through “insensible perspiration,” an imperceptible ethanol vapor that passes through the skin.

In other words, a person “sweats out” a small portion of the alcohol that he/she consumes. The SCRAM bracelet / anklet detects this alcohol and reports it automatically to a monitoring center.

FAQs about the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) Program in DUI Cases

Who is required to wear the SCRAM Device Bracelet?

Judges in DUI cases may order a defendant to refrain from alcohol, or risk going to jail. The judge may then order the person to wear the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM Device) as a means of verifying compliance with this order. If the DUI defendant removes the SCRAM bracelet or consumes alcohol, the regional monitoring center will notify the court.

As a practical matter, most judges in Colorado DUI cases only order the SCRAM program if the offender has prior DUI convictions and is perceived as having a serious alcohol problem.

How long does a person have to wear the SCRAM Device?

A judge can require a DUI defendant to wear the SCRAM bracelet/ anklet for any period of time, from 30 days to more than a year. This usually depends on the seriousness of the present DUI offense, the number of prior DUI offenses, and the extent of the person’s alcohol problem.

Who pays for the SCRAM Program?

Generally, the DUI offender ordered to participate in the SCRAM program pays for it himself/herself. But the court system may absorb part of the cost in the case of an indigent DUI defendant.

Can the SCRAM bracelet / anklet be removed by the wearer?

The SCRAM device is difficult to remove, but it can be done. If the person removes the SCRAM device, or tampers with it, this will alert the Regional Monitoring Center, who will then notify the court.

Can I work and go to school during the SCRAM program?

Yes. The SCRAM program is not a form of house arrest. The person participating in SCRAM still can work, attend school, and go to events. He/she just can’t drink alcohol.

Who Operates the SCRAM Program?

The SCRAM program was developed and is owned by Alcohol Monitoring Systems, or AMS. This is a Colorado company that makes the SCRAM bracelets / anklets and licenses administration of the program to various local private agencies.

Further Resources:

A Primer for Criminal Justice Professionals on SCRAM Transdermal Monitoring by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

Other Articles of Interest:

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H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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