DUI And The SCRAM Device In California


Most people in California are aware that there is a device that may be ordered installed in person’s vehicle upon conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol. This device, called an Ignition Interlock device or IID is a mechanism that prevents a person from starting a vehicle without first blowing into the device, which registers any alcohol in the person’s system. If any alcohol is registered, the vehicle will not start. Some counties in California require that this device be installed— even for first time DUIs— but in most California counties, ordering the installation of a IID is left to judgment of the court.

Most people in California are not aware, however, of another alcohol monitoring device that may be ordered by the court in DUI cases. This device, called a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor or SCRAM device is an ankle bracket that continuously monitors for alcohol in the system through the skin. When the court orders installation of an IID, the defendant is only monitored for blood alcohol content when he or she wants to drive, when the SCRAM device is worn, the defendant is continuously monitored. DUI probation includes a zero-tolerance condition, that is, anyone on probation for a DUI cannot drive with even a small amount of alcohol in his or her system; the IID is just an extra level of enforcement. But if the court orders that the DUI probationer cannot drink at all, the court may order that the defendant wear a SCRAM.

SCRAMs are not often ordered and it is always up to the court to order the wearing of this ankle bracelet; at the present time, there is no statute that mandates that a person convicted of DUI wear a SCRAM. Courts most often order a SCRAM for those convicted of past DUIs or for those who exhibit an alcohol dependency. The SCRAM devise is not like a home confinement ankle bracelet that you’ve probably heard about. Home confinement ankle bracelets monitor a person’s location, while with the SCRAM bracelet, a person is free to go anywhere (as permitted by the terms of probation) but they are not free to consume alcohol.

Now the ordering of a SCRAM ankle bracelet may seem intrusive but it is often a good alternative for a person who has been arrested on multiple DUIs and who obviously has an alcohol addiction issue. SCRAMs are most often ordered in conjunction with rehabilitative efforts in lieu of a jail sentence. This is considered an alternative sentence and is aimed at rehabilitation rather than punishment. The court may order the defendant wear the SCRAM for a period of time, which in the court’s judgment is enough time to monitor the defendant’s rehabilitation.

If you are charged with a 3rd or even 4th DUI within the last 10 years, the alternative sentence of a SCRAM bracelet combined with rehab is far preferable to spending time in jail. If you have any questions about DUI alternative sentencing or about the laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol in California, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008.