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DUI House Arrest: How Does It Work?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

If you're convicted of a DUI, house arrest may be a possible punishment. But how does it work, exactly?

Being busted for a DUI doesn't always mean jail. In many cases, especially for first-time offenders, prosecutors will offer a plea bargain, allowing defendants to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Some courts may require DUI house arrest -- spending time confined in your home -- as an alternative to jail time. But serving your time at home comes with some strings attached.

House Arrestees Electronically Monitored

Traditional house arrest involves a monitoring device, worn around the ankle, that will alert law enforcement if you have left your home. More modern DUI house arrests are accomplished with SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) bracelets, which measure alcohol use by detecting trace amounts of alcohol in the wearer's sweat.

Wearing this device saves the house arrestee from having to submit to regular Breathalyzer tests, but even imbibing just a small amount of alcohol can set it off.

Just like court-ordered ignition interlock devices, DUI offenders bear the cost of having their SCRAM bracelets installed. Depending on the state and the type of device, DUI house arrestees may also have to pay the continuing costs of maintaining SCRAM surveillance.

In addition to the SCRAM bracelet, an offender on house arrest may need to meet regularly with a parole or probation officer.

Length and Restrictions of House Arrest

In most jurisdictions, a judge can allow you to serve some, if not all, of a DUI sentence's jail time under house arrest. The maximum length of any DUI house arrest is then (at most) equal to a state's penalties for a DUI offense.

However, like probation or other alternative sentences, house arrest is a privilege and not a right. Violating the terms of DUI house arrest by leaving approved areas or by using drugs or alcohol may mean extending your sentence.

Ironically, defendants under "house arrest" may be allowed to leave their homes to:

  • Attend school or training classes,
  • Commute to work,
  • Visit family members,
  • Pick up children, and
  • Shop for necessities.

While under house arrest, these activities will be limited to specific times and geographical areas, and DUI offenders may have a curfew to obey.

Of course this is just a general overview, and each case is different. If you have more questions about the possibility of serving house arrest for a DUI offense, contact an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

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