SCRAM and What It Means If You Are Charged With a DUI in Virginia

What is SCRAM?

SCRAM is an acronym that stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. It is a device that is usually worn around your ankle and it monitors your sweat for traces of alcohol.  It is a technology that has been available to jurisdictions for use in Virginia since 2006. In a report from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services from 2013, of the 26 community-based probation and pretrial service programs that responded to their query (out of the 37 in the Commonwealth), eight jurisdictions currently use SCRAM devices.

Fairfax VA DUI Attorney Jad Sarsour

How Does SCRAM Work?

The SCRAM device is a leg bracelet that samples transdermal alcohol content (TAC). When you drink alcohol, the alcohol is metabolized by your body and some of it is excreted through your sweat. If you have ever been around someone who has over-indulged and smelled alcohol on their body even though it had been hours since they had consumed their last drink, TAC is why. The bracelet is secured to the leg and contains tamper-resistant features that also measure body temperature and the device’s relative proximity to the skin. It is similar in appearance to what most people think of as a house-arrest ankle monitor. The SCRAM device monitors the perspiration over time for alcohol levels over a given threshold, sometimes as low as .02%. It then reports its findings to a commercial company that reports any negative findings to the court or other appropriate authorities.

Who Has to Use a SCRAM?

While Virginia has made the ignition interlock device mandatory for all DUI convictions, SCRAM is most often used as a pretrial measure to ensure no alcohol is consumed while the wearer is out on bond. This is more prevalent where the accused is a repeat offender. There is also a trend in Virginia wherein first time offenders are being required to use a SCRAM as a bond condition. There are more and more instances in which judges are using SCRAM after a conviction as a supplement to ignition interlock devices.

Why is SCRAM Detrimental to Me?

  • You are wearing a court-mandated monitoring device. While it can be hidden, it cannot be removed. There is no way to hide it while your legs are exposed. Everyone who sees you will know that you have either been accused or convicted of a crime. It could easily impact your social life, your job, and more.
  • There is a large cost associated with using the device – often between $10 and $12 per day to monitor. If the average user is required to wear it for 90 days, the offender has to pay up $1080 in addition to the already potentially massive fines, penalties, and other related costs involved in a court case.

Are There Benefits to SCRAM?

As onerous as SCRAM sounds, there are some benefits to the accused or convicted.

  • If the device is offered as a condition of bond, it allows the user to be out of jail while awaiting trial.
  • The device can provide proof that the offender is complying with the terms and conditions of the bond or probation, which can be potentially mitigating evidence either during trial or bond/probation proceedings.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Virginia, SCRAM is another potential punishment you may face. If you do not like the idea of having to wear a monitoring device for the foreseeable future, you need to make sure you are well represented. Please contact Jad Sarsour today to set up your consultation today at (571) 216-2639. He is an accomplished DUI defense attorney with the experience and expertise to provide you with a top-notch defense.

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The Fairfax Criminal Defense Law firm of Jad Sarsour, represents clients throughout Northern Virginia and regularly appears in all courts, including: Fairfax County Fairfax City | Prince William County | Arlington County Alexandria City Loudoun County | Federal Court (Eastern District/VA)