SCRAM: New Watchdogs for Drunk Drivers

nk driving has become a problem of epic proportion, with alcohol-related traffic incidents stubbornly resisting government efforts to curb them. You've heard about MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

You've seen commercials about talking to your kids, insurance premiums going up, and victim support groups. The laws have gotten stricter, but just how exactly can society get a grip on this terrible problem?

One answer is the SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) ankle bracelet.

This device is similar to the ankle bracelet law enforcement currently uses to monitor sex offenders and other persons that are under "house-arrest".

Except that it does not keep people at home: it is worn 24 hours a day and can be monitored via the Internet at a 900MHz radio frequency, and allows the convicted person to move about normally in their daily lives. The big difference is that it constantly monitors their blood alcohol level and can be set up to take as many as 48 tests per day without the wearer’s knowledge!

The SCRAM transdermal ankle bracelet is attached to the offender's ankle and is not removed until their sentence has been completed. It is tamper-resistant and sends reports around the clock to the probation officer and the SCRAM headquarters with a bar chart result. There is a modem that is placed in the offender’s home and when the wearer is within range of the modem, all reports are relayed immediately to the monitor.

This bracelet helps authorities determine the alcohol use of offenders and is rapidly becoming commonplace in drunk driving conviction sentences. It measures the molecules of ethanol coming off the body; 5% of everything you drink comes off the body in the form of perspiration.

The tool is an important part of the defense arsenal against alcohol abusers. Some people may argue that this is a case of "big brother" invasion on personal privacy, but you must consider the fact that they would not be "invaded" if they had used alcohol responsibly or avoided it altogether.

SCRAM ankle bracelets are here to stay. Probation and Parole officers swear by them as being invaluable to them as a job aid. These devices are being used for first-time offenders, not just the repeating criminals, so it can apply to anyone that drinks and drives…and gets caught.

Ultimately, however, it's better to stop drunks between the bar and the car, also known as "intervention at the point of consumption" than to deal with the drunk driver after the fact.