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Tag Archives: SCRAM Device

The Importance of Being Drug and Alcohol Free While on Bond

When charged with a crime, especially in Harris County, it is very important to remain drug and alcohol free while on bond.  This could potentially be the case even if you are not charged with a crime that involves alcohol and/or drugs.

Of course drugs are illegal, so you shouldn’t be doing them anyway.  But it seems silly to tell people that they shouldn’t be drinking when it’s legal.  I agree, but unfortunately, some judges do not care if it is legal, if they know you are drinking they could potentially take your bond away and put you back in jail.

One particular case I worked on recently was a possession of Marijuana case.  I warned my client ahead of time to not do drugs and to always be on time to court.  In an effort to try to get the case dismissed, I sent my client to take a drug test (which he passed).  He took this test on a Friday, and his court date was Monday.  Since he was clean and passed his drug test on Friday, he figured it was ok to do drugs during the weekend.

Fast forward to Monday, and my client shows up late to court.  The judge asked about the status of the case, and then he sent my client to get drug tested (warning him that a failed drug test would result in his bond being revoked).  My client sits in the probation department for hours, claiming that he doesn’t have to urinate, and then eventually leaves.  He doesn’t go back to court, and now he has a warrant for his arrest.  I have not heard from him since.  He went from having the opportunity to get his case dismissed, to making his problems three times as bad.

Alcohol related cases sometimes carry a pre-trial consequence of having an ignition interlock placed in your vehicle.  If you do not have a vehicle, an at home interlock might be assigned.  If you end up in a bad court, you could possibly even have a SCRAM device (an ankle monitor which takes a reading from your sweat glands to see if you have been drinking) installed on your person.

Similar to the consequences listed above, if you blow into your interlock device with alcohol, or if you SCRAM monitor reads alcohol, you run the risk of your bond being revoked.

While most of the time interlocks are used for alcohol related cases (DWI mostly), I have seen them used on cases such as Failure to Stop and Give Information (Hit and Run) and Domestic Violence Cases.

Whether or not this happens on your case depends a lot on the court you are placed in, and the judge who is hearing your case.  Most criminal attorneys in Houston who work consistently in the Criminal Justice Center can give you an idea of the tendencies of the judge handling your case.

SCRAM Monitor

Almost every Houston DWI Attorney has had a client who has been put in the unfortunate situation of placing a SCRAM device on their ankle.  A SCRAM device is an ankle monitor used by certain courts in Harris county (and sometimes probation departments) that monitors an individual’s blood alcohol level.  The SCRAM device works by taking sweat samples from your body every 20-30 minutes and basically uses that to tell whether or not you have been drinking.  Every time the SCRAM monitor takes a reading, it stores the data, and it is eventually forwarded to the court/probation department.

Most commonly this type of monitor is placed on high risk defendants, defendants with multiple DWI convictions, or individuals who have had alcohol problems during the course of their pending cases.  Some courts (which exist, but are few and far between) will place this monitor on first time offenders while the case is pending.  This is an unfortunate situation that arises from time to time, and unfortunately there is little defendants can do but hope their attorney can work something out with the judge.

Sometimes a standard interlock device, or at home interlock device can be substituted for the SCRAM.  Both these options are better since they are both cheaper.  Price is definitely one of the negatives of the ankle monitor.  The SCRAM device ranges in price from $450-$500 per month, while the at home device costs roughly $150 per month, and the standard vehicle interlock costs around $80 per month.  Other negatives to the SCRAM device are that the device is big.  No one likes to walk around looking like a criminal, and this device looks like it belongs on a criminal.  And the SCRAM monitor is a manmade science, the accuracy of the readings are questionable, but unfortunately readings are taken seriously by courts.

If you have a SCRAM monitor placed on your body in Harris County you should consult with a DWI Lawyer in Houston to see if you have any options available.  Your Houston DWI Attorney should be able to consult you on your particular case and tell you what the best (and worst) case scenario is.