To SCRAM or not to SCRAM?

As technology changes, so to the methods the court use to enforce sentences. With DUI advocacy becoming hot button topic over the last 20 years, the courts are trying their best to enforce sentences for DUI, and prevent recidivism. Here in Palm Beach County, the office of the state attorney enacted a first time DUI offender program. (DUI can’t be exupunged) The aim at this program is to give first time offenders a chance to have a DUI offense removed from the record. In addition, the program aims to reduce recidivism for DUI charges.

One of the ways the program aims to reduce recidivism is to have a three-month alcohol monitoring device. One of those monitoring devices is called SCRAM. It is an acronym for secure continuous remote alcohol monitor. What a SRCAM monitor is a bracelet that goes around the defendants ankle and it electronically monitors the use of alcohol through the skin. When the bracelet is in place it takes readings once per hour if alcohol is detected readings are taken twice per hour and is reported to a remote monitoring service.


The SCRAM monitor works best when it’s worn at least 90 days so that the offender has enough time to remain sober and to start treatment program. Preliminary evaluation of the SCRA couple M monitor showed a reduced recidivism rate for those who use the product by about 3%. However, when the offender had two prior offenses recidivism rate using the monitor dropped significantly by about 13%. See report.

The positives of using a SCRAM monitor is the reduction in recidivism. It also enforces punishment issued by a court. Previously if an offender was on probation for DUI, the probation officer would have to initiate a random breath or urine tests to determine alcohol. Here, the SCRAM monitor is always working.


While reducing recidivism is important, it is also important we have due process. One of the biggest drawbacks of using SCRAM is that by the time the courts are alerted that there is a positive test, there is no way for an individual to attain an independent test. While scram alert the private company that there is a positive test that company may take several weeks to alert the courts, and/or probation of the allegation. By that time it is too late for the defendant to get obtain an independent test show person consume alcohol.

Where this leaves us is the debate as to whether or not the results of a scram monitor should be used in court to prove that the defendant violated a term or condition of probation. A great article written by Michael Hlastala. Addresses that issue, he firmly believes it should not be used for evidentiary purpose, however should be used to require a more stringent test.


The bright side is, society is coming around to fixing the problem (helping someone who has an issue with alcohol), as opposed to just punishing the crime. This gives individuals a chance at moving on from a bad decision without it impacting their future.   To understand more about DUI and its effect on a defendant please go HERE.