What You Need to Know About SCRAM Devices

If you were recently arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Collin County or other parts of Texas, the judge may order you to abstain from consuming alcohol for a certain period of time. Instead of having you come in on a daily basis to check your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by chemical test, the court may instead require you to wear a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM). This device is attached to your ankle, and it incorporates a sensor to detect the presence of alcohol.

There are multiple issues you need to know if you’ve been ordered to wear a SCRAM, and a Collin County DWI defense attorney can provide the essential details to ensure you don’t run into trouble with the device. An overview may also be helpful.

Why You May Be Ordered to Wear a SCRAM

  1. At your first court appearance after a DWI arrest, a judge will likely release you until the day of your trial. In the ordinary misdemeanor DWI in Collin County, a Judge is unlikely to order a SCRAM device as a condition of bond unless less restrictive measures such as a Deep Lung Device or in home unit prove insufficient to deter the use of alcohol while on bond.
  2. If you receive probation to resolve your DWI case, avoiding alcohol may be a condition imposed by the court. The SCRAM will inform the court if you violate the terms of your probation, which means your court case can be re-opened.
  3. If you go to trial on a DWI and you’re convicted, it’s possible that you’ll be sentenced to jail time. Many DWI defendants are sentenced to community supervision (probation.) A judge could order that you wear a SCRAM device as a condition of community supervision. The court can rescind the arrangement and order you to jail if the SCRAM notifies officials that you were drinking.

How a SCRAM Works

Alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream through the digestive process, and you eliminate most through the urinary tract. However, some of it is passed through your skin when you sweat. The SCRAM measures the alcohol that’s released from your pores through two sections of the device:

  • One box conducts tests similar to a breathalyzer to assess your BAC; and,
  • The second stores the information about your BAC and transmits it to officials on an hourly basis.

Do’s and Don’ts While Wearing the SCRAM

Obviously, the first, most important rule about wearing the SCRAM is to avoid alcohol at all costs. However, even when you’re vigilant and don’t take a drop, there are other ways you could accidentally trigger the device. Therefore, some tips include:

  • Do Check Labels on What You Consume: You may be surprised to learn that some food, non-alcoholic drinks, and medicines have alcohol in them. Even a trace amount can set off the SCRAM and alert officials, who don’t care whether the consumption was inadvertent.
  • Don’t Forget to Look at Household Goods: Though you won’t be putting them in your mouth, some cleaning products contain alcohol. At higher levels, the substance can seep into your skin and trigger the SCRAM.
  • Do Properly Maintain the Sensor Connection: The SCRAM works by sensing the level of alcohol excreted through your skin, so avoid putting any item between the sensor and your body. Though it won’t alert officials to ingestion of alcohol, it may indicate to them that you were trying to remove the device.
  • Don’t Go Swimming: Immersion in water has a similar effect on the sensor, which could lead police to think that you’re attempting to take the SCRAM off. Avoid a bath, swimming, and related activities that involve immersion in or significant amounts of water. You should even wear proper protection from sweat when engaging in a strenuous workout.
  • Do Request Temporary Removal When Necessary: Most security screenings will not be a problem for the SCRAM, such as going to the courthouse, a sports event, or airport. However, when you’re undergoing some medical examinations, the device needs to come off. If you’re having an MRI, x-ray, CT scan, or related tests, your attorney will need to request court permission for temporary removal. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about other types of exams.

Discuss SCRAM Basics with an Experienced Criminal Lawyer in Collin County

For more information on wearing your SCRAM and how to remove it legally, please contact Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian to schedule a consultation with a skilled Collin County criminal defense lawyer. From our office in McKinney, TX we serve clients throughout Collin, Denton and Dallas County, and we’re happy to answer your questions.

Written by: Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian Last Updated : August 14, 2023