Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ignition Interlock Device v. SCRAM bracelet. Which would you rather have?

If you recently have been arrested for a DUI in King County then you face the possibility of either an ignition interlock device or a SCRAM bracelet being imposed at your DUI arraignment.  Lately with the negative publicity DUI cases have been getting, along with the recent tragedies involving repeat drunk drivers more and more Judges are setting stricter conditions of release after a DUI arrest.  Sometimes involving both a SCRAM device and or an ignition interlock device. 

Obviously if you're at a DUI arraignment in King County and the Prosecutor is asking the Judge to impose either one of the above conditions an objection should be made under criminal rule 3.2.  However if it appears the Judge is going to grant the Prosecutors request.  Which condition is better to have?

In case you don't know an ignition interlock device is a contraption that is installed in your vehicle through your dashboard.  Before the driver starts their vehicle they have to blow into the interlock device and it tests for alcohol.  If the driver tests positive for alcohol and the level is higher than the programed level the vehicle will not start. Typically this level is a 0.02 or 0.04.  

A SCRAM bracelet is a device used to detect alcohol.  It stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring.  It attaches to an individuals ankle and detects alcohol through sweat.  The bracelet will test every so often, usually every hour.  If alcohol is detected then the SCRAM bracelet reports the positive test to a regional monitoring center who then informs the Court.  

So back to my original question.  Which is better?  Well in my opinion as both a Seattle DUI Attorney and citizen concerned with the recent tragedies an ignition interlock device is the better of the two.  Why?

First an ignition interlock device is much less expensive.  A typical ignition interlock device costs about $75 a month.  The cost of a SCRAM bracelet costs around $12-$15 a day.  That equals about $360 a month.  

Secondly in my opinion an ignition interlock device is a much more effective tool to prevent drunk driving.  Why?  Well in order to start the vehicle a driver needs to be sober or the car will not start.  Most people I know only have 1 car.  They are not going to get drunk and go through the trouble of trying to find another car to drive.  Secondly a SCRAM bracelet in no ways deters drunk driving.  An individual can still drink, get drunk, get behind the wheel of their vehicle and drive.  It's not like if the bracelet detects alcohol the police are going to immediately find the individual and arrest them.  By the time the Court finds out it could be too late.

So why would a Court impose a SCRAM bracelet and not an ignition interlock device.  I don't know.  Perhaps it is a punitive measure.  Perhaps it is to drain an individual financially in an effort to teach them a lesson.  Clearly in my opinion it is in violation of Criminal Rule 3.2 which states the least restrictive means possible must be imposed.  And an IID is the least restrictive means possible other than a simple abstain condition. 

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other related offenses.  He is currently ranked as one of the Top Seattle DUI Attorneys by Avvo, and listed as a Rising Star in Seattle DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine.  An honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. 

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