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What Is an Alcohol Tether or SCRAM Bracelet?

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

Do you know what an alcohol tether is? Also called a SCRAM bracelet, it's a tool to monitor a person's alcohol use after a DUI conviction.

A Michigan woman recently learned first-hand how they work. After Brenda Conway pleaded guilty to OWI (operating while intoxicated, Michigan's version of a DUI), a judge ordered her to wear an alcohol tether until her sentencing next month, Detroit's WWJ Newsradio reports.

So what is an alcohol tether, and how do they work?

24/7 Alcohol Monitoring

An alcohol tether, also known as a SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) bracelet, detects the presence of alcohol in a person's sweat, usually by the hour.

The bracelet contains a modem from which a regional monitoring center can download reports to determine the levels of alcohol a person has consumed.

Many courts will order a DUI offender to get a tether or bracelet to ensure that he or she is abstaining from alcohol, in lieu of more traditional Breathalyzer tests, often as a condition of one's probation sentence. In addition, it's usually the DUI offender who has to pay for SCRAM bracelets, which are also often paired up with a house arrest order.

Because the alcohol tether or SCRAM bracelet is often a term of one's parole or probation order, a violation could result in traditional jail time. For Conway, who has yet to be sentenced, a potential violation may earn her a harsher sentence.

How to Get Bracelet Removed

If a DUI offender is ordered to wear a SCRAM bracelet while under house arrest, she may actually still be allowed to leave her home -- for school or work, for example. It all depends on the terms of the house arrest order.

So how can a DUI offender get the bracelet or tether removed? SCRAM bracelets are usually ordered for a certain amount of time, so once that period is up, it can come off. In Conway's case, it's possible may only have to wear her bracelet until she's sentenced in December.

Alcohol tethers and SCRAM bracelets are just one form of alternative DUI sentencing. If you have questions about how post-conviction monitoring works in your jurisdiction, make sure you speak with an experienced DUI attorney about your case.

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