Hairspray Leads to Alcohol Monitoring False Positive
By: Chris Kramer
In DeFuniak Springs, Florida, a judge has agreed that a
17-year-old girl should not be held in jail as the result of the alarm
triggered by her alcohol monitoring anklet, after evidence shows the device may
very well have been set off by her hairspray.
According to Kimberly White, reporting for the Northwest
Florida Daily News, Elyse Tirico is awaiting trial on charges of DUI manslaughter and DUI with serious bodily injury related to the January 4 car
accident that killed Meghan Burkhart-Smith, a classmate of Tirico’s.
Tirico has worn an ankle bracelet since March following a
court order to do so. The alcohol
detection device indicated that Tirico had consumed alcohol from 9:38am to
6:48pm. on July 15.
At that time, Tirico claims to have been at her job, working
as a receptionist for a hair salon. Clay
Adkinson, her DUI attorney, contends that his client consumed no alcohol during
that time and presented affidavits from witnesses who were with her that day
and confirmed that they had not seen Tirico drink or exhibit signs of alcohol
Adkinson also called Jeff Hawthorne to testify at Tirico's
hearing. Hawthorne is the co-founder of
Alcohol Monitoring Systems Inc., and inventor of the SCRAM (Secure Continuous
Remote Alcohol Monitor) ankle bracelet. He testified that his device tests blood-alcohol levels through
On July 15, Hawthorne says
Tirico's anklet issued an alert after three different readings showed her
blood alcohol level at above .02.
Adkinson also stated that alerts are occasionally produced
via products other than alcohol. He says
all users of the device are given a list of products that contain alcohol.
The list includes some toiletries, perfumes,
and cleaning supplies. Hawthorne was
asked whether or not hairspray could produce such a false positive, he said it
was possible. Tirico has said that
hairspray was heavily used in the salon where she works on the day of the
Walton County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Wells was swayed by
"Based on the
evidentiary hearing today, the court would find that it appears that the
detection made by (the alcohol monitoring device) was a false positive, and so,
based upon that, I'm not going to revoke her pre-trial release."
Tirico's trial was originally scheduled to begin this month
but was continued to January of next year. After the positive reading from the anklet, whether or not Tirico would
spend that time incarcerated was at issue. The device takes a reading every 30 minutes, and issued three separate
alerts on the date in question showing Tirico’s blood alcohol level above .02.
Florida Daily News