The Law Office of


(619) 326-8161
The Law Office of


(619) 326-8161

How Do I Trick or Fool the SCRAM Ankle Bracelet


In three words… “Don’t Even Try”San Diego DUI Defense Attorney

You might lose your bond money, have your probation revoked, and could subsequently serve (more) jail time.

The technology is very advanced and wearing this device is your chance to redeem yourself to the court and to the prosecution.  In all my years of being involved with DUIs and people having to wear the ankle bracelet, with it was when I was a prosecutor or now as a San Diego DUI Defense attorney, I have never heard of anyone beating the ankle bracelet.

For other helpful information on this topic – visit the ScramSystems website.

Here is some helpful advice and information if you have been ordered to wear a SCRAM ankle bracelet.

Please take this information very seriously.

How does the Bracelet know if it is being tampered with?

If you had a drinking event confirmed by SCRAM’s ‘transdermal’ test, is it possible to test negative on a ‘urine’ or ‘breath’ test hours later?

This is possible because, unless some ‘specific’ type of urine test is used (because of the way alcohol is metabolized) absent a very high level drinking event, ‘regular’ breath or urine tests that are conducted hours after a ‘regular’ drinking event will likely not catch the residual indicators of alcohol.  Additionally, ‘specific’ tests generally do not return results with a consistent level of accuracy which informs the courts whether someone was/was-not drinking alcohol.

Breath, Blood, and Urine testing is accurate and reliable for determining blood-alcohol intoxication levels for on-the-spot testing (such as roadside sobriety tests) but the body metabolizes alcohol quickly and once the ‘process’ is complete there’s virtually no trace of alcohol in the body that can be detected.  Unlike drugs, that leave residual indicators for days or even weeks and are easier to test for, alcohol does not leave such trailing indicators.  Consequently, ‘random’ non-transdermal tests can be easy to circumvent.

Can I put something between the bracelet and my leg/skin to block the bracelet’s readings?

Here’s why that’s virtually impossible.  At ‘installation’ the bracelet sends an infrared (IR) beam out to the skin to get a ‘baseline’ reading regarding the reflective quality of the bounce-back.  If something is later placed between the skin and bracelet or there’s some alteration to that baseline IR sensor reading, the bracelet will generate an alert.  And most times SCRAM is able to see the drinking data as well as the obstruction data.  Thousands of bracelets and technology have been and continue to be, tested to ensure the bracelet is able to detect obstructions.

Can you drink but keep your skin from sweating by putting your ankle/leg in ice water?

If this happens both the ‘temperature’ sensor will register an alert AND this would not keep the bracelet from being able to take a transdermal reading.  Attempting this would be prohibited and would result in a ‘violation’.

Why is there a list of products that contain alcohol that bracelet wearers are not supposed to use?  Does this mean that those products could cause a false positive?

There have been times wearers have tried to ‘mask’ a drinking event by ‘spiking’ the bracelet.  This usually happens in the form of a person spraying or applying a product with alcohol, then claiming it wasn’t a ‘drinking’ event, but rather just exposure to the product that contained alcohol.  Therefore, those assigned to wear the bracelet sign an ‘offender agreement’ at the time it’s installed which prohibits them from using products containing alcohol on or around the bracelet.

A ‘spike’ occurs where an alcohol reading increases much faster than a person could metabolize (sweat-out) alcohol.  A product with alcohol will cause the alcohol readings to go up much faster than the body could consume alcohol and will also become non-readable in that it will also evaporate/burn-off much faster than the human body could metabolize it.  Confirming the event as actual alcohol consumption involves human analysis and the use of mathematical algorithms to ensure an event was in fact alcohol consumption rather than caused by some other environmental alcohol.  So although SCRAM can differentiate between ‘consumed’ and ‘environmental’ alcohol, the offender agreement prohibits the use of alcohol-containing products to discourage spiking of the bracelet.  This type of attempt to mask/tamper with the device is considered a violation and is met with increased sanctions by the court or the monitoring authority.

What if something with alcohol is accidentally spilled on the bracelet?

If there is a spike, such a spilling or similar type of event (hairspray / perfume) will be distinguished from ‘alcohol consumption’ that metabolizes at a slower pace through the skin.  SCRAM’s confirmation process includes analysis and ensures that a confirmed event is ‘consumed’ alcohol.  Thousands of tests have been and continue to be run to ensure that no spilling or accidental event can mimic the results of ‘consumed’ alcohol.

Can hairspray or a hair salon’s atmosphere cause a false positive?

This is possible.  However, this has been analyzed under the ‘spiking’ scenario.  It is possible that SCRAM could issue an alcohol alert if the bracelet was exposed to hairspray, but this would be no different than any other alcohol-infused product that would cause a ‘spike’.  The device/system is designed to distinguish between ‘environmental’ exposure and ‘consumption’ of alcohol being metabolized.  Hairspray (as well as hundreds of other alcohol-containing products) has been tested to ensure that exposure to the bracelet does not mimic a ‘drinking’ event or create some false positive.

Can a false positive be created in the bracelet/system if you kiss or have sex with someone who is drinking?

NO. The only exception to this is if there is substantial alcohol on or around the bracelet, which would give off an alcohol alert.  However, as discussed above, the system is designed to differentiate between consumed alcohol being metabolized by the person wearing the bracelet and some outer/environmental exposure to something or someone around the bracelet that contains alcohol.

Can eating certain baked goods create a false positive on the SCRAM ankle bracelet?  

NO. This is a myth that was started years ago after a Michigan judge misunderstood testimony about a scientific study involving the bracelet, which then spread and became mutated on the internet.  The peer-reviewed study evaluated whether eating certain baked goods could create a false positive on ‘breath’ tests.  (That study concluded eating some baked goods could create what’s called “mouth alcohol” that lingers for several minutes in the mouth and could potentially create ‘breath’ test false positives).  However, consumption of those foods would not have any impact on ‘urine’, ‘blood’ or ‘transdermal’ (ankle-bracelet) testing – only ‘breath’ tests.  That internet myth is now more commonly known as “The Chocolate Donut Theory”.  Per the study, for someone to test positive on a urine, blood or transdermal test after eating baked goods, they would have to consume in one hour:

Can false positives be created by non-alcoholic beer, cold medicines or mouthwash?

While there are a few reports that people have been ‘wrongly’ accused of drinking because they consumed cold medicine or used mouthwash, the reality is those products might only create false positives with ‘breath’ testing IF proper test protocols are not followed.  The reason being that those products with alcohol might leave a residual in the ‘mouth’ for when a ‘breath’ test is administered, and a false positive might result from ‘mouth alcohol’.  However, if correct protocols and wait times are used for the ‘breath’ test these products will likely not create false positives.

Practically the only way these products would have an impact on ‘urine’ ‘blood’ or ‘transdermal’ test results is if they were used in such large quantities that they actually create intoxication.  And as with any product that contains alcohol, if the person would consume enough to become intoxicated, they are deemed ‘intoxicated’.  Therefore whether the alcohol comes from a beer or hard liquor, wine, vanilla extract or mouthwash, it is ‘alcohol’ and can create intoxication and will be a violation. 

Will the wearer/offender be notified by the bracelet of an alert such as flashing lights, or alarms or other signals?

NO.  Neither the bracelet nor the base-station will show an indication of any kind. When the bracelet connects with the base-station at it’s pre-scheduled time, a green light on the bracelet will blink merely to indicate that the two are communicating properly. (Note: the bracelet and the base-station have to be within fairly close proximity to communicate – approximately 30 feet)  The first indication of an alert will take place at the data center where all alerts are generated and analyzed before they’re confirmed.

Can a false-positive be created by using hand sanitizers?

NO. In 2008 SAMHSA (the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) issued a warning that hand-sanitizers had been shown to create false positives on ‘urine’ testing.  If hand-sanitizer (or some other ‘environmental’ effect) created an alcohol alert, SCRAM would be able to differentiate that from alcohol actually being metabolized through the body’s skin after being consumed.

What are the penalties for tampering with the SCRAM ankle-bracelet?

This would be up to the supervising agency.  Generally progressive/increased sanctions are implemented.  An offender can have their bond and/or probation revoked and possibly serve jail time.  The type of punishment for violations and how quickly they escalate to jail time depends on the laws and programs of the offender’s supervising agency, the severity of their offense (1st Time DUI?… 2nd Time?… Felony DUI?) and the orders of the court.  Some programs deal with a ‘tamper’ violation much more aggressively than a ‘drinking’ event… and vice-versa.

How does the SCRAM ankle bracelet work?

The SCRAM ankle-bracelet has 2 separate parts.

The 1st part contains a ‘sensor pack’ which tests vapor as it passes through the skin in order to measure for alcohol consumption/metabolization.  The 2nd part contains electronics to detect for tampering and systems control as well as collecting, storing, and transferring data by way of the RF (radio frequency) link to the base unit.  A tamper detection strap acts as an electronic link between the two parts and secures the bracelet to the person’s ankle.

Wearers never know when the SCRAM ankle-bracelet is going to take a sample and the supervising agency can set-up and modify the testing schedule based on the particulars of each case.  Each reading is date and time stamped and stored in a memory chip with the SCRAM ankle-bracelet until it’s transmitted via the SCRAM modem.

The SCRAM ankle-bracelet’s patented tamper protection system:

The ankle bracelet contains microprocessors and state-of-the-art sensors for alcohol analysis, including a patented tamper detection system designed to make sure readings are accurate and from the proper person.  The anti-tamper technology prevents the bracelet’s process from being circumvented or distorted.  Once the SCRAM ankle-bracelet is in place it cannot be removed without destroying the tamper clip or strap.  If the bracelet is cut or removed in the field it records a ‘tamper alarm’.

Can I fool the ankle-bracelet by placing something between it and the skin?

Some myths recommend placing plastic wrap, tape, paper, aluminum foil, playing cards… or even sliced meat (such as bologna) between the SCRAM bracelet and the skin. Such attempt WILL trigger, record, and send a tamper alert to SCRAM.  If alcohol or tamper is detected, the system automatically begins sampling every 30 minutes and immediately begins sending signals to the modem in order to make sure alerts and data is transmitted as soon as the wearer is within range.

As I said in the beginning… the technology is superior and the consequences of getting caught trying to trick or tamper with the device are not worth it.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with a DUI, call me as soon as possible so we can get your questions answered.  You’ll likely only get one shot to successfully defend your DUI case.  It is vital you hire an attorney with the experience, knowledge, training and courtroom experience to aggressively defend your DUI case.  Contact the Law Office of Chris Sohovich now for a free case evaluation at 619-326-8161.