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SCRAM Devices in Seattle and Washington DUI Courts

What Is A SCRAM Device?

DUI offenders will find that a new fashion accessory is coming to Seattle, the alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet. Seattle Municipal Court is planning to use these devices to monitor DUI defendants, reports the Seattle Times.

While decidedly a “fashion don't”, these bracelets serve a purpose other than being awkward and unsightly. These devices can detect alcohol from the wearer's skin, and are thought to be a handy and cost effective way to ensure that those accused or convicted of a DUI do not consume alcohol.

Lindsay-lohan-ankle-bracelet
One of the Most Famous SCRAM Units As Seen On Lindsay Lohan

The good news is that, according to proponents, they are a great way of monitoring offenders, and at the same time keeping them out of what is already an overcrowded jail system. This of course saves the taxpayers money, and stops a further drain on law enforcement resources.  But they are undoubtably a large inconvenience and expensive proposition for people charged with DUI in Washington State and Seattle, where they are used a great deal.

The ankle bracelets are worn by defendants that are awaiting trial, or by those that have already been convicted and are on probation. Judges announced that the court is now planning to use the bracelets in misdemeanor DUI cases and they are following their word.

The device itself is known as the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM). The company that monitors the devices sends daily reports to probation and law enforcement officials. The bracelets are sensitive, and able to detect a 0.02 alcohol reading through the skin. They do not however, detect drugs in the defendant's system.

Sentinel Offender Services has been awarded the contract to provide the bracelets and monitoring services for the City of Seattle.

In the past, these devices have been used in other counties in Washington besides King County, where Seattle is located. They normally are used for second or third time DUI offenders that are awaiting trial or when a persons breath test result is very high. This is in addition to the use of ignition interlock devices. The cost of having a defendant stay one day in jail is $85.00 and paid by the courts. The cost of monitoring a defendant with SCRAM, is approximately $15.00 and paid by the accused.

The untested devices have grown in popularity and many hurdles forensic science evidence usually faces have been largely ignored prior to acceptance in the criminal courts. The issue of false positives remains untested. Before Seattle and other courts become to accepting of these devices in a courtroom as evidence of any kind they should be be subjected to scrutiny just as other alcohol measuring devices.

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