Alcohol Monitoring Ankle Bracelet Can Give False Positives

Posted on February 8, 2013   |   by phillipsonlundin

The alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet, commonly known as SCRAM, which is being ordered by courts all over Washington as a method of monitoring DUI defendants, can give positive results for alcohol even if a defendant has not had a single drink.

The device, called a ”Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor,” or SCRAM for short, takes the form of a bulky ankle bracelet and tests a person’s blood alcohol level through perspiration.  It wirelessly updates the monitoring company or probation every 30 minutes. Judges all over Seattle, King County, and Washington State have been quick to adopt this technology as a way to ensure that DUI defendants are not consuming alcohol in violation of their court orders.

However, that does not make the devices fool-proof or reliable. In a recent case in Florida, reported here and here, the co-founder of the company that makes the device admitted that false positives do occur. Anything that contains alcohol has the potential to affect the device, including “certain toiletries, perfumes and cleaning supplies.” These don’t even have to be worn or used by the person wearing the SCRAM bracelet. In the Florida case, the defendant was at work in a hair salon, where she was constantly exposed to hair spray, when the SCRAM device registered alcohol in her system.

Should you find yourself with a Washington DUI and a SCRAM device on your ankle, make sure you are aware of the pitfalls.