What is a Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) Device

If you’ve found yourself charged and convicted of an alcohol-related crime such as a DUI in North Carolina, then there is a chance that you may be fitted with a secure continuous alcohol monitoring device (SCAM often shortened to CAM) as part of your sentence. The CAM device can also be applied voluntarily to showcase a period of sobriety has been achieved.

Similar to those who have been sentenced to house arrest, you will have an ankle bracelet attached to you for a set amount of time. However, unlike those under house arrest, a CAM device is designed to monitor if you’ve consumed any amount of alcohol.

How Does a CAM Device Work?

The CAM device works by fixing the device to the ankle at which point a sensor comes into contact with the skin. The sensor can detect any amount of alcohol that is being excreted through the skin. This transdermal contact takes measurements and transmits this data to show adherence to the sobriety.

The excretion of alcohol through the skin is a byproduct of the alcohol that is imbibed and not broken down through the enzymatic process of the liver. Since the breakdown of alcohol in the liver isn’t 100 percent, then the remaining particles are removed through sweat. If you’ve ever noticed that a person smells of alcohol on their body after a night of drinking, it is the alcohol in the sweat that is producing the odor. The alcohol in the sweat is what the device is measuring.

The CAM device will eventually be sensitive enough to determine the time of alcohol consumption and the user’s blood alcohol content level.

When Do Courts Require CAM Devices to be Installed?

There are times in which a judge will want to prohibit a defendant from using alcohol during the pretrial proceedings or mandate it as part of a sentence after a verdict has been found. By installing a CAM system to the person, the courts then have access to any incidents where the wearer has consumed alcohol, without having the cost of probation officers making house calls to check for alcohol use. This is also a way to mitigate the need to jail the DUI offender in order to maintain sobriety.

Pretrial Usage

There may some cases in which a judge can release a defendant from jail if they consent to wear a CAM ankle bracelet. This frees up the jail system, while the defendant awaits their trial date, as well as provides a third-party solution to encourage sobriety. These bracelets are normally only warranted if the defendant is a repeat DUI offender.

Post-Conviction Usage

If the verdict of a DUI court case returns as guilty and this is the defendant’s repeat offense then a CAM device may be a condition of the probation. If this is your first DUI offense then a CAM device is unlikely to be issued.

Cost of the CAM Device

Amid the multiple consequences of receiving a DUI charge, if you are also sentenced to wear a bracelet then you’ll be required to pay for the services of the device. These fees may include the installation of the CAM and the cost associated with monitoring the activities that the device sends.

The fees applied aren’t universal, however, the expenses are never cheap. The fee only for installing the device can range between $50-$100. The daily monitoring of the data sent from the device can range anywhere between $10-$15. The fees can exceed this, with most monthly bills averaging above $300.

Tampering with the Device

The CAM device is designed to register alcohol consumption behavior that is transmitted to a base station located in your home which then relays that data to the monitoring company. If alcohol consumption is detected then an alert is sent to the base station. The violation is then added to an Activity Report which is then submitted to the proper authority.

Since surveillance is conducted 24-hours a day, many people may try and circumvent the device through a number of ways. The installation procedure locks the ankle bracelet in place to make removing it impossible without causing damage to the device. If the restraints are severed, the base station will automatically alert the monitoring company.

The device is continually monitoring the transdermal contact to detect the presence of alcohol in the sweat, if the wearer attempts to disrupt this connection then the base station will notify the monitoring company as soon as it receives the data. This includes placing an object between the sensor and the skin or trying to lift the device from the skin.

The device must also make regular connections with the base station, otherwise, an alert will be issued to the monitoring company. This prevents the wearer from attempting the drain the battery as a way of consuming alcohol during the dead period.

If you’ve been charged with DUI, call our law firm and schedule a consultation with one of our skilled DUI defense attorneys in Asheville.