Mind Candy

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The SCRAM bracelet: Monitoring drunk drivers

Posted by mandyf on November 5, 2012

The SCRAM bracelet, Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring System, is a tool used primarily by law enforcement authorities under judicial order to ensure that when a repeat DUI offender is released on bail that they comply with the order for not imbibing alcohol. Lindsay Lohan is an example of someone that is familiar with the SCRAM. The device looks a lot like the ankle bracelet used to enforce home arrest on released offenders which ensures a certain perimeter is not broken. The SCRAM Bracelet operates on a similar principal in that via transdermal monitoring it identifies any traces of alcohol which enter the wearer’s system.

The device is worn just above the ankle – and with most models weighing around 8-10 ounces it is not something you forget is strapped on. If the device is removed somehow it sends a signal that the transmitting connection has been broken and you’re busted. If you drink alcohol the transdermal monitor will pick up any traces of ethanol released in perspiration and you’re busted. Try as many may, there is not yet a way to beat the SCRAM bracelet – and if there is those smart enough to figure it out are not bragging about it.

The reason the bracelet is so difficult to beat is that it registers an alcohol level of just 0.02 which means even a 2 ounce slug of beer can pop a positive on most all people. The SCRAM also takes a reading every thirty minutes, so there is no true grace period to rid your body of alcohol between readings. Every reading SCRAM takes over the course of the day is stored on a chip in the bracelet. Once every 24 hours, the person wearing a SCRAM has to go to where the SCRAM modem they are assigned is housed, usually their home, and stand within 20-30 feet of the modem for a period of about 15 seconds for the data to be transferred to the SCRAM monitoring center. Failure to do so is considered a parole violation – and again – you’re busted.

People have tried beating the SCRAM by sliding a moist towelette, or swatch of fabric between the SCRAM transdermal monitor and their skin thinking it would fool the system – but they were wrong. SCRAM has a micro laser that monitors how much space is between the unit and wearer’s flesh. Anything that breaches that and changes the normal limits reading is recorded. Not just that though, it signals the SCRAM center that the unit has been tampered with with in turn will be considered a potential parole violation and require the wearer to appear to have the unit checked – along with the readings for that time frame to see if everything is in order.

SCRAM has been an invaluable tool to helping cut down on repeat offenses for DUI. It has been used in the private sector by parents to monitor teens, and has been rumored to be used by a limited number of private enterprises – not in the U.S. yet, but there has been talk of it so long as it can be done without being considered a violation of rights. The bottom line is that you may fool a cop once, you may sweet talk a judge once, but you will not beat the SCRAM.


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