Texas DWI Bail, Diversion, and Probation Conditions: Interlock and SCRAM 

If you are arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated you may have to come to grips with an interlock or SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor). The following are examples of Texas DWI conditions of bail, intervention programs, and probation that may require you to install an interlock or SCRAM, including a description of each and costs associated.

Interlock or SCRAM as a Condition of DWI Bail

Depending on the Texas county you are arrested in and the criminal court you are assigned, if this is your first intoxication offense, you may be required to install an interlock device as a condition of your DWI. In Harris County some judges require the interlock device as a condition of pre-trial release, others require it only if your blood alcohol level comes back at 0.15 or higher, and others do not require it at all. If you have previously been convicted of an intoxication offense Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 17.441 requires the installation of an interlock if the installation is in the best interest of justice.

Texas DWI Lawyer Practice Tip: courts generally find installation of the device is in the best interest of justice.

Interlock or SCRAM as a Condition of DWI Pre-Trial Intervention

Many counties offer pre-trial intervention or diversion programs for first time DWI offenders. Once upon a time staying out of trouble was all it took to complete the diversion program and have your case dismissed. Today, diversion programs resemble probation with the interlock, SCRAM or both conditions of the program.

Interlock or SCRAM as a Condition of DWI Probation

If the court finds you guilty, sentences you, but suspends your sentence and places you on DWI probation your conditions will include the interlock, SCRAM, or both. The difference in the aforementioned pre-trial intervention and probation is probation acts as a final conviction that cannot be expunged.

Texas DWI Lawyer Practice Tip: if you fail to successfully complete the terms of your probation, a motion to revoke probation may be filed and the court can sentence you up to the maximum punishment range for the charged offense.

Texas DWI Lawyer Practice Tip: Clients often ask if deferred adjudication is an option for DWI. Deferred adjudication is not a lawful option for intoxication offenses in Texas. Deferred adjudication falls between pre-trial diversion and probation in that the court finds you guilty, but defers the finding of guilt. A deferred adjudication cannot be expunged but can be blocked from the public through what is known as a non-disclosure.

Interlock or SCRAM as a Conditon of an Administrative License Suspension (ALR)

In Texas if you apply for a driver’s license you consent (implied) to provide a specimen of your breath or blood if you suspected of driving while intoxicated. A refusal to provide a specimen may result in your license being suspended by the Texas Department of Public Safety. If suspended, you may be eligible for an occupational license. Interlock devices are often required before the court will grant such a license.

What is the Interlock?

Interlock device and DWI attorney in Houston

The interlock is a portable breathalyzer that attaches to your vehicle under the dash. At one end is a blow tube and at the other end is a cord that runs under your dash. The device is installed into the ignition system of your car. In order for your car to start, you are required to provide a breath sample. Every 5 to 30 minutes you may be asked to give an additional breath sample. Hence the term “blow and go.” Most devices now have cameras attached to confirm you are the person blowing into the tube. The data from the device is pulled when you have the device calibrated at a scheduled time and location.

What is the SCRAM?

Texas DWI Lawyer and SCRAM device

The SCRAM is an ankle bracelet that communicates through a modem connected to a monitoring station. Hourly the apparatus tests for the presence of alcohol through the person’s perspiration. If alcohol is detected the SCRAM device will test every thrity minutes. Additionally the SCRAM has a sensor designed to report any tampering with the device.

Both the Interlock and SCRAM are not without issues of their own, having mistaken many everyday household products as drinking alcohol.

What is the cost for an Interlock or SCRAM device?

The monthly cost for each device is expensive approximately:

Interlock = $59-$90 a month

SCRAM = $435 a month (yes, $435 a month)

Interlock providers include EZ Interlock, Intoxalock, Smart Start, and LifeSaver. As expected the reviews for the providers are relatively low, with EZ being the highest per Google at 3 out of 5 stars.

If you are required to obtain an interlock or SCRAM it is important you pay close attention to the instructions and do not use alcohol or even alcohol based products such as mouth wash that can cause false positives. Doing so can result in your bond being revoked, your probation being revoked, or your pre-trial diversion being terminated.