Too much time is spent by television cameras and their audiences concerning themselves with the lives of movie stars. But a recent incident with Lindsay Lohan raised an issue that can affect my clients. She had a bracelet attached to her leg that is supposed to signal any alcohol in her body. Yet she was reported to be leaving alcohol rehab and returning directly to her party routine and got arrested again for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol in Santa Monica, California. No mention, no repercussions are apparent from this on her alcohol bracelet. And that could be a problem.
The SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) alcohol-monitoring device is scientifically designed to signal alcohol in a person’s body. It will signal at approximately the level of 0.02% BAC. This wonderful instrument is sometimes, rarely, accepted by the prosecution instead of jail time. Therefore, we want this instrument to work. We want this science to succeed, because the alternative is time behind bars. We do not want incidents of the bracelet not working or apparently not working.
Why did the SCRAM not signal Lindsay Lohan’s recent [reported] use of alcohol? It may have worked after all. It depends on who received the signal, if any, that Lindsay Lohan was drinking alcohol. Ordinarily, the SCRAM bracelet is set up to signal law enforcement or probationary authorities that the subject is signally positive for alcohol. But in this case, Lindsay Lohan put on the bracelet voluntarily, so she could have set the signal for any alcohol detection to be transmitted to her lawyer, her boyfriend, or to a vacant lot.
The SCRAM makers claim that 40,000 Americans have used it since it was released on the market in 2003. The ankle bracelet is designed to take an air sample at least every hour, to collect the data, and then to transmit the data over a hard wire telephone line for analysis. The manufacturer claims it is the same technology as the Breathalyzer.
Since the bracelet is designed to read the person’s sweat for alcohol, some people claim to have out-smarted the bracelet by putting it under water or putting a piece of baloney between the bracelet and the person’s ankle. The manufacturers of the SCRAM respond that they will eventually catch anyone who tries to cheat the device.
Considering the present overflowing jail population as well as the dubious long-term value of incarceration in many kinds of cases, an option like this ankle bracelet is a valuable contribution to the arsenal of alternatives available to a criminal defense lawyer and his clients. More choices are better, more choices that the courts and prosecution will accept are better.