DUI Offenders Prove Sobriety With Alcohol-Monitoring Ankle Bracelet

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In Riverside County, Calif., DUI offenders are being given a chance to prove their sobriety through an ankle bracelet program. The country started the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) program last year and received press when comedian Andy Dick was fitted with one of the ankle bracelets last year. Dick showed off the device when he appeared on "The View."

A San-Francisco-based company, Leaders in Community Services administers the program for the county. DUI offenders and others who are on probation wear the SCRAM ankle bracelet, which takes a blood alcohol content reading every half hour, based on the amount of alcohol in a person's sweat. At least once every 24 hours, the data collected by the SCRAM device is uploaded for review by a case agent.

There are currently 55 people enrolled in the SCRAM program in Riverside County. Linda Connelly, president and CEO of Leaders in Community Services told The Press-Enterprise that approximately 40 percent of those enrolled have been charged with felony DUI.

Program participants must pay a fee for entry into the program. The fee is usually a minimum of $5 per day. Riverside County Superior Court presiding Judge Tom Cahraman says even the minimum fee, based on the participant's ability to pay, may be too much. Because of the high compliance rate associated with the devices, County Supervisor Jeff Stone plans to seek funding for the SCRAM program for low-income people.

Dick received three years' probation and was ordered to wear the SCRAM ankle bracelet for one year after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and drug possession. The charges against Dick were in connection with an incident that happened in July 2008 outside a restaurant in Murrieta, Calif. Police were called after an apparently extremely intoxicated Dick yanked down a 17-year-old girl's tank top.

Several weeks ago, TMZ reported an arrest warrant was issued for Dick for violating the terms of his probation. Dick allegedly reported to his case agent that he had been at a comedy club, but drank only water when his ankle bracelet detected alcohol. The warrant was rescinded.

Connelly says that most people have no alcohol alerts from their SCRAM ankle bracelets. Dick reportedly claimed that someone had spilled alcohol on the floor at the club, and that was the reason for the false alarm on his ankle bracelet. Approximately 60 people participated in the SCRAM program in Riverside County in 2008 and 87 percent of those had no alcohol alerts. Those who had alerts were mostly the product of new users attempting to tamper with the device.

Last year the program had a 90 percent success rate, with the average participant wearing the device for 122 days.

Alcohol Monitoring Systems manufactures the SCRAM ankle bracelets and there are currently active programs in 46 states.

More information on California DUI.


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