Alcohol Monitoring Systems

Do you want to understand how and why law enforcement uses alcohol monitoring devices? Learn alcohol monitoring system basics.

Alcohol-related crimes are among the most common in the United States. Frequently, those offenses have catastrophic consequences. In fact, an average of 28 people per day die in alcohol-related car crashes in the United States. Such offenses are among the most preventable, and law enforcement officials have steadily increased their monitoring of offenders involved in alcohol-related crimes. Depending on where you live, an alcohol-related driving offense is typically called either driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). If you are caught for a DWI/DUI offense, there are several punishments you may face. They vary depending on the severity of the situation and how many times you have been caught. One such punishment is ongoing alcohol monitoring.

Alcohol monitoring is a process by which law enforcement officials can monitor offenders' blood alcohol content levels (BACs). Various technologies and systems are used for that purpose. When offenders have BACs outside the legal limits, law enforcement can take action to prevent injuries and property damages. Here is what you need to know about alcohol monitoring systems and how they improve public safety.

What is an Alcohol Monitoring System?

An alcohol monitoring system is one of various devices capable of monitoring the human bloodstream. It detects the BAC of the person who is tested. The BAC is the ratio of alcohol to blood in the subject's body. It is typically given as a percentage. A BAC of 0.08 percent is the federal legal limit. However, every state and municipality has its own laws. You must familiarize yourself with the laws in the area where you are located, if you want to avoid drunk driving charges. 

Police officers, probation officers, and others use alcohol monitoring to keep criminals from violating probation terms and recovering alcoholics from reverting back to old habits. Such monitoring and testing also has other uses. For example, officers frequently use portable alcohol monitoring devices to determine if drivers are under the influence of alcohol during traffic stops. Those devices help police officers gather evidence to hold drunk drivers accountable for their crimes.

How Does Alcohol Monitoring Work and is it Accurate?

The various types of alcohol monitoring systems differ in terms of how they work. For example, some analyze a subject's breath. Others use urine or blood tests to determine internal BAC levels. However, the general principle of each is the same. They each record and display or transmit alcohol consumption data, as needed. Law enforcement officials use that data to make sure offenders do not commit additional alcohol-related crimes.

Despite their similarities, it is important to note distinct differences in the accuracy levels of the various forms of alcohol level monitoring. Breath, blood, and urine tests are among the most common forms of alcohol monitoring. A blood test is considered the most accurate of the three. The second most accurate is a breath test. However, factors like the following can all impact breath test accuracy:

  • Diet

  • Nearby Gasoline Fumes from Vehicles

  • Other Environmental Factors (Presence of Strong Chemicals Like Paint Thinner in a Vehicle Etc.)

  • Methods Used to Calibrate the Devices

A urine test is considered the least accurate of those three long-popular testing methods. A urine test often produces a false positive because it can detect alcohol up to 80 hours later. That is long past the time period during which the alcohol can impair judgment or motor skills. Additionally, a urine test is rarely performed quickly after a suspected alcohol-related offense is committed. Therefore, its results can lose accuracy due to lost time.

What is a SCRAM Device?

Alcohol monitoring is a process that dates back several years, but it has not always been as efficient as it is today. Previously, most offenders at high risk for re-offending had to submit to scheduled alcohol testing. That testing was frequent, but it was not constant. Therefore, subjects who were monitored could find ways to cheat the system. Often, they simply drank between monitoring appointments. Many companies today are trying to eliminate those flaws in monitoring systems by taking advantage of modern technological advancements. One of those companies is SCRAM Systems.

SCRAM Systems is a company that produces state-of-the-art products designed to support corrections operations. One of its many useful products is a bracelet called the SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring bracelet. It is better known as SCRAM CAM. The purpose of the SCRAM CAM system is to provide around-the-clock monitoring of alcohol levels. It analyzes sweat secretions at half hour intervals and reports that data to monitoring officials, such as parole officers. 

What Are Popular Brands of Alcohol Monitoring Systems?

There are many companies known for producing alcohol monitoring systems besides SCRAM. Several of them have multiple types of monitors available. They each have unique features and benefits that are useful to law enforcement officials, as well as citizens who want to self-monitor for alcohol levels in their bloodstreams. For example, some can send information directly to cellular phone apps. Certain monitors also provide useful time estimates that tell you how long you are expected to remain intoxicated. Some of the top names in alcohol monitoring today are:

How Do You Know Your Own Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)?

If you want to enjoy some occasional alcohol without accidentally endangering others or facing criminal charges, you need ways to monitor your own BAC. One way to estimate your blood alcohol level is by using an online calculator like the one here. Many such calculators exist. They can help you roughly estimate your BAC. However, they are not as accurate as monitoring devices. To use an online calculator, you must typically provide the following information:

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Number of Beverages Consumed

  • Types of Alcoholic Beverages Consumed (Beer, Wine Etc.)

  • Body Weight

  • Time Period During Which Beverages Were Consumed

Another common way to check your BAC is by purchasing a blood alcohol level meter for home use. Most such meters come in the form of breathalyzers. A breathalyzer is a device you breathe into that calculates your BAC for you. Home breathalyzer tests are not as accurate as some other alcohol monitors, so treat the figures they provide as rough estimations. Even so, using one can help you avoid driving while intoxicated and the potential ramifications of doing so, including legal entanglements.