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Mouthwash, perfume ... alcohol-sensing-anklet wearers are advised not to risk it

May 24, 2010 |  7:03 pm

Lohan Perhaps you haven't heard, being otherwise engaged with going about the business of living, but Monday actress Lindsay Lohan was ordered to wear a remote alcohol monitor at all times. And the device -- a 10-ounce anklet -- was strapped on right at the courthouse.

The story: Court orders alcohol monitor clamped on Lindsday Lohan

Rule-breakers might automatically wonder how to fool the device; skeptics might wonder just how sensitive it really is; and everyone else has probably moved on to other news. So for the first two groups...

The new accessory tests for the presence of alcohol in perspiration every half-hour, as this L.A. Now post notes. Here's an explainer of how it gets there, that is, alcohol's post-ingestion route, courtesy of

SCRAMx, the company that makes the bracelet, seems quite confident of its product's ability to discern alcohol use, explaining how it works, how it feels when taking a reading (slight vibration) and the list of prohibited products. It states:

Do not use or possess any product containing alcohol, including (but not limited) to: mouthwash, medicinal alcohol, household cleaners and disinfectants, lotions, body washes, perfumes, colognes, or other alcohol-based hygiene products.

The Washington Post describes one woman's court-ordered, anklet-wearing experience in this recent article; a reporter at that paper describes his own voluntary anklet-wearing experience in a separate piece.

An excerpt:

After my shower at 6 p.m., I administered my first test, "accidentally" spilling a capful of Listerine down my leg. I rinsed it off and half an hour later joined my wife for a shot of scotch whisky on the rocks. It was a little creepy knowing that a machine was about to catch me red-handed, or at least red-ankled.

A reporter at Pittsburgh's Tribune-Review tried a similar experiment, attempting to trick the device and then drinking steadily.
Thus far, the rule-breakers are outnumbering the skeptics (or, in any case, the idly curious), with most published accounts devoted to whether the device can be fooled, not its accuracy.

But alcohol is more common than you might think, found in a rather impressive array of otherwise pedestrian concoctions, as the American Coalition for Ethanol proudly notes -- and thus sensitivity becomes an issue.

One teenager makes clear why hairspray use, in any case, is ill-advised. The judge seemed understanding though... 

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Lindsay Lohan appeared in court Monday.

Credit: Jae Hong-Pool / Getty Images