Nevada judges may order certain DUI defendants to wear a SCRAM bracelet on their ankle to monitor their alcohol levels. SCRAM typically comes into play in Nevada felony DUI cases as a condition of probation. When a SCRAM bracelet detects that the wearer has been drinking, he/she faces immediate incarceration.
In this article our Las Vegas DUI Defense attorneys answer 10 frequently-asked-questions about SCRAM bracelets in Nevada DUI cases. (Click on a question below to go directly to that topic.)
- What does SCRAM stand for in Nevada DUI cases?
- What is a SCRAM bracelet in Nevada DUI cases?
- How do SCRAM bracelets work in Nevada DUI cases?
- Do all defendants have to wear SCRAM bracelets in Nevada DUI cases?
- When are SCRAM bracelets required in Nevada DUI cases?
- How long do Nevada DUI defendants have to wear SCRAM bracelets?
- How much do SCRAM bracelets cost in Nevada DUI cases?
- What happens if SCRAM bracelets detect alcohol in Nevada DUI cases?
- Can SCRAM bracelets come off in Nevada DUI cases?
- Can I go outside while wearing a SCRAM bracelet in my Nevada DUI case?
Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor.
A SCRAM bracelet, which is really an anklet, is a type of Nevada electronic monitoring device. It is a tamper-resistant gadget that a Nevada judge may order certain DUI defendants to wear on one of their ankles for a specified period of time as a condition of probation. SCRAM devices test the wearer's alcohol content at least once an hour and notifies authorities of the results. Therefore SCRAM bracelets deter the wearer from drinking, and it keeps law enforcement informed if the wearer does drink.1
Once the alcohol a person drinks gets absorbed in his/her bloodstream, the alcohol eventually exits the body via either metabolism or excretion. Excretion occurs through breath, urine, saliva, or sweat. SCRAM detects "insensible perspiration," which is an invisible ethanol vapor that expels through skin. Only one percent of ingested alcohol leaves the body through sweat.
SCRAM tests the alcohol content of its wearer about once an hour. In addition to testing sweat for alcohol, SCRAM contains modem technology that wirelessly notifies the closest monitoring center of the alcohol content results.
No. Judges only impose SCRAM devices on DUI defendants who are ordered to refrain from drinking altogether, not just drinking and driving. Therefore, the only DUI defendants who are usually ordered to wear SCRAM devices are those suffering alcoholism and/or facing felony DUI charges. People arrested for a first-time misdemeanor DUI in Nevada are rarely ordered to wear a SCRAM bracelet. In short, SCRAM is a way for certain serious DUI defendants to avoid jail while still being subject to alcohol monitoring.
SCRAM devices are usually required for DUI defendants undergoing Nevada DUI Court, which is a long-term rehabilitation program that permits defendants to avoid lengthy jail sentences and possibly a DUI conviction as long as they follow the judge's orders. Other terms may include counseling, Nevada house arrest, and drug testing.
Judges also have discretion to impose SCRAM usage on DUI defendants not undergoing DUI Court. These usually are for felony drunk driving cases such as third-time DUI in Nevada the Nevada crime of DUI causing death or injury and/or when the defendant has a drinking problem.
It varies case-by-case. It can be several months or even years depending on the sentence. Felony DUI Court can last from three to five years, for example. If a defendant wears a SCRAM for a lengthy period of time without incident, he/she may be able to persuade the judge to lift the SCRAM order earlier.
DUI defendants pay for all expenses associated with SCRAM. Costs vary but are typically $12 a day.
SCRAM devices are in constant contact with a regional monitoring center. If SCRAM detects that the wearer may have been drinking, the regional monitoring center will inform law enforcement, who will in turn arrest the defendant.
Then at the next court appearance, the judge will usually impose the jail sentence that the judge had originally suspended on the condition that the defendant not drink. The defendant can try to plead for mercy or argue that the SCRAM malfunctioned and returned a false positive, but it up the judge whether to give the defendant another chance to be out of custody.
SCRAM devices are sturdily designed to stay on, but with the right tools it still may be possible to cut a SCRAM bracelet off. However, tampering with a court-mandated SCRAM bracelet is illegal and carries consequences...
SCRAM bracelets that are meddled with signal the regional monitoring center, which in turn informs law enforcement. At that point, the police may arrest the DUI defendant, and the judge will usually impose a jail sentence. Defendants can ask the judge for a second chance, but it is unlikely the court will permit someone who deliberately broke out of a SCRAM bracelet to stay out of custody.
It depends on the case. Some DUI defendants are free to move about, some can only go to work and school, and others are placed on house arrest. SCRAM monitors alcohol levels, not location.
Arrested? Call an attorney...
If you are facing DUI charges in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a FREE consultation at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We may be able to get terms of your DUI case lessened or the charge reduced so you never have to wear a SCRAM.
For information about California SCRAM devices, see our article on California SCRAM devices.
1See Fleisher, Aaron, Clark County, NV uses SCRAM ankle device to monitor DUI offenders, SCRAMCA.com (May 27, 2015).
2 Clark County Revs up DUI Monitoring for Felony Offenders: Justice Courts add sweat-sniffing ankle bracelet to DUI program, ScramSystems.com (Feb 27, 2007).