Sometimes in life things just work out to be way beyond funny….
Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. markets a product they call “Secure Continuous Alcohol Monitoring” (SCRAM and SCRAMx) devices. It is perhaps best known as the Lindsay Lohan court-ordered fashion accessory. Well, it seems that SCRAM has an accessory of its own that could get you in trouble…
SCRAM and SCRAMx is this company’s method of continuous transdermal alcohol monitoring (CTAM).
They make the incredible claims that they can tell remotely of a drinking event based upon transdermal excretion (perspiration). They also claim that they can tell the difference conclusively between casual contact and an actual drinking event. They even go so far as to claim on their literature:
SCRAMx is the industry leader in CAM and house arrest because it… Has been validated by thousands of courts nationwide, with judges recognizing the device as accurate, reliable, and generally accepted… Conclusively distinguishes between ingested and environmental alcohol… Provides single-source admissibility, with no need for back-up tests.
(Source: http://alcoholmonitoring.com/ams_files/resources/SCRAMxdatasheet.pdf retrieved November 8, 2010).
In terms of monitoring ethyl alcohol (ETOH) consumption transdermally, one can use either sensible perspiration (liquid phase) examination or insensible perspiration (gaseous phase) examination or both. SCRAM and SCRAMx use a method of measuring transdermal alcohol in the insensible phase. The collected materials are then analyzed by an electrochemical sensor in the bracelet housing. This is used to estimate the concentration of ETOH in the body. The measure is the amount of Transdermal Alcohol Concentration or TAC. In terms of validated science, the correlation between TAC and true BAC due to exclusively ETOH consumption is not well-known or conclusively established within the scientific community.
A great friend and colleague of mine Patrick Barone, Esquire of Michigan has repeatedly examined the limitation of this assay in his writings:
- SCRAM Alcohol Monitoring Ankle Bracelets: Junk Science Or Important Scientific Breakthrough?
- Michigan Judge Finds Alcohol Monitoring Device to be Unreliable
I would commend you to read his works.
The funny comes into play because of what I saw. I was invited to speak recently at a DUI Defense seminar for a particular state. At these seminars are typically vendors who are there to influence attendees and offer services. SCRAM is no different. Several representatives from SCRAM were there. They, like all of the vendors, were there to promote their product. As all vendors do, and SCRAM was no different, they have “take away items” or items that they give away with their company’s logo–some sort of useful trinket. This one caught my eye.
Not isopropyl alcohol, which most other antibacterial hand sanitizer sprays feature (e.g., see this one), but the full octane ethyl alcohol (ETOH) which the device is set up to detect.
Why isn’t there a warning for those under monitoring by SCRAM to not use the SCRAM’s own antibacterial hand sanitizer spray???? It’s a funny world we live in, isn’t it?