This week’s case brings us up to Peekskill, NY -- about an hour away from Manhattan by MetroNorth, and a 3 hour 45 minute drive to Syracuse. Mel Gibson, was born and raised in Peekskill until his family moved to Australia in the late 1960s; also from Peekskill is Why Cue, the rapper and producer. Jackie Gleason, actor and comedian, lived in Peekskill from 1959 to 1963.
This week’s case is about a violation of probation by someone convicted of Driving While Intoxicated when their SCRAM bracelet detected alcohol on the 89th day of their 90-day sentence. We will talk about what a SCRAM bracelet is in a little bit.
Raimer Vasquez, drunk driver who pled guilty to DWI (BAC .16%, and he admitted that he consumed up to 5 beers prior to the stop); Regina Saez, Raimer’s girlfriend; Police Officer Evans, arresting officer; Jennifer Marie Cento, SCRAM Monitor.
The Drunk Driving Arrest – A Joy-Ride with Raimer and Remy Martin
On November 11, 2017 at 4:00 a.m., Raimer was cruising in his Black 2005 Acura Sedan on Carhart Ave east bound at Husted Ave, in the City of Peekskill. Officer Evans stopped Raimer for failing to stop at a stop sign. P.O. Evans determined that Raimer’s eyes were glassy, that his speech and motor coordination were impaired, and that Raimer reeked of booze. P.O. Evans administered a Field Sobriety Test. Raimer failed and then tested BAC .16 (.08 is the threshold).
Raimer pled guilty. As part of Raimer’s sentence, he had to wear a SCRAM bracelet for 90 days. On Day 89, the bracelet detected alcohol in Raimer’s system. Raimer was arrested again and he had to appear for a SCRAM Hearing.
First: What is a SCRAM bracelet?
SCRAM – acronym for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring device. SCRAM is an ankle bracelet. SCRAM bracelets detect alcohol present in a person's sweat. SCRAM bracelets report the measurements to a monitoring center. If the wearer's sweat contains alcohol, or if the person has tampered with the bracelet, the monitoring center will contact the authorities. The bracelet is worn 24 hours a day.
Judges may order or allow use of a SCRAM bracelet as a condition of parole, probation, or early release of those convicted of driving under the influence. While wearing the bracelet you cannot use mouthwash with alcohol in it. No baths and no swimming in the ocean. The device can't be submerged, but showers are okay. It does not interfere with sleeping – it is so lightweight, you don't notice it.
Raimer had to wear his SCRAM bracelet for 90 days. On the 89th day, the SCRAM Monitor Jennifer Marie Cento, determined that Raimer’s bracelet indicated alcohol consumption.
THE SCRAM HEARING
Testimony of Raimer:
Q: Did you drink alcohol during the 90-day restricted period?
A: No, ma’am, I did not. 3 months is a short time to risk destroying my life and career over drinking.
Q: You attended a wedding during the 90 days, right?
A: Yes, ma’am, I did. But I did not drink any alcohol at the wedding, and that if I had known that my ankle bracelet indicated anything, I would have called an attorney or taken some other action.
Q: Your testimony is that you did not touch a drop of alcohol?
ATTORNEY: OBJECTION, VAGUE AND CONFUSING.
ATTORNEY: Your Honor, the use of the word TOUCH causes problems here…
COURT: Counsel you can fix any “problems” on redirect. OVERRULED!
Q: Any alcohol, Raimer?
A: No. The only explanation I can come up with is that my girl was like French kissing me and she was doing some crazy drinking.
ATTORNEY: OBJECTION: Not responsive, Judge.
COURT: OVERRULED: Your question deserved that answer.
Testimony of Regina Saez
Q: You are Raimer’s girlfriend?
A: Yes. And we have 2 kids together.
Q: You were with Raimer at the wedding.
Q: And he did not consume any alcohol?
A: You mean drink? No, I did not see that.
Q: But you were not with him every second of the event, right?
Q: You kissed Raimer at the wedding?
Q: You were drinking?
Testimony of Jennifer Marie Cento
Q: You are a SCRAM Monitor, Ms. Cento?
A: Yes, I am.
Q: Have you ever met Raimer before?
A: Yes. I installed a SCRAM bracelet on Raimer’s right ankle. It was fully functional for 365 days from the date of installation.
Q: Are their rules about the SCRAM bracelet that the wearer should know?
A: Yes. The rules state various items to avoid like hand sanitizers, foods and medications containing alcohol.
Q: Did you give Raimer a copy of the rules?
A: No, but there is no policy in place requiring me to do so, and I told him everything. He knew.
Q: Ms. Cento, could kissing someone who ingested alcohol produce an alcohol alert?
A: Ha ha ha! (same laugh as Denver from “Money Heist”). I don’t think so but I’m not certain.
Testimony of Officer on the SCRAM Offense
Q: Officer. you spoke with Raimer?
A: I did. I told
Q: Did you ask him if he drank any alcohol?
A: Yes. He said he might have had a beer or two.
Closing Argument – RAIMER
Raimer went through extraordinary lengths to avoid anything that had alcohol. He had been problem-free 89 of the 90 days, so why would he commit a violation with only one day remaining before the SCRAM bracelet was to be taken off? Also, SCRAM technology is bogus.
Closing Argument – The Prosecution
SCRAM technology is used by 49 states and has been accepted in the courts of this state for years. Raimer’s attorney offered no expert testimony to refute Ms. Cento or to put any question as to SCRAM technology. And there was no testimony by anyone that supports the crazy argument that the alcohol in Raimer’s system was transmitted by a French Kiss.
The Court’s Decision
Here, the Court finds that the SCRAM bracelet and technology are scientifically reliable as a matter of law; that the testimony of Ms. Cento was properly received as an expert on the subject of the SCRAM bracelet; and, that a proper, uniform procedure was utilized in this case ensuring a reliable result.
FINALLY, the Court HOLDS: that the evidence was sufficient for the Court to find, and does so find, that Raimer violated his conditional plea agreement by ingesting alcohol and triggering an alcohol alert on his SCRAM bracelet.
Raimer was one day away from a successful run in dealing with his addiction. He went 89 days! But any addiction is a daily and sometimes hourly battle. Raimer will have to return to court to find out what his sentence will be for violating his probation. It could be jail. He could be sentenced to use the SCRAM bracelet for a year. Hopefully Raimer will get better and stay off the road when he is driving with his Liquid Passenger.
Hope to see you next week.
Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/pdfs/2019/2019_32494.pdf