What is a SCRAM Bracelet?


If you're arrested for DWI in Texas, the judge may order you to stop drinking any alcoholic beverages for a certain amount of time. To ensure you're following those orders, they may require you to report to court once a week for an in-person test, or they may order you to wear a SCRAM bracelet.

SCRAM stands for “Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring.” While in-person testing provides test results once a week, SCRAM devices provide information hourly by testing the level of alcohol in a person's sweat. The device contains a modem that connects to a monitoring center, where a worker keeps track of all alcohol levels. Worn on either the wrist or ankle, some SCRAM's even contain GPS devices for instances when the person is restricted to a certain area or is under house arrest.

There are different reasons why the judge may choose a SCRAM over in-person testing. Initially, you could be required to wear it while you wait for your court date. When you do go to trial, you could be convicted, but the judge may assign you community service, or probation. Part of that might include rehabilitation therapy. You could be ordered to wear a SCRAM bracelet to ensure you are following your sentence. If you fail any SCRAM test, your case could be reopened.

It's important to remember that SCRAM devices aren't perfect. They are programmed to detect small amounts of alcohol in your sweat, but alcohol can come from outside sources causing false positive readings. Forms of alcohol are all around us in such things as house cleaning products, some shampoos, perfumes, cough syrups, mouthwashes, and aftershaves. These items don't usually contain enough alcohol to cause a reaction, but it is possible.

If you do find yourself ordered to wear a SCRAM bracelet, here are some things to do to protect yourself:

  • Check the labels of what you eat and drink. Some food, medicine, hand sanitizers, even non-alcoholic drinks contain small amounts of alcohol. Be especially careful with mouthwash.
  • Check household goods. Cleaning products can contain alcohol that will seep into your skin and trigger the SCRAM.
  • Don't go swimming. Don't do anything that involves total immersion in water. It could look like you're trying to take the device off.

Most of the time you won't have problems with such things as screening devices in courthouses or airports, but talk to your doctor before having procedures such as MRI's, x-rays, or CT scans. You may need to talk to your attorney about getting a temporary removal in these instances.