Idaho

Cologne may have set off ankle monitor, claims Idaho man convicted in fatal DUI crash

Your sweat doesn’t lie. These devices monitor alcohol in your body. Here’s how.

Nancy Cladis of Idaho Monitoring Services explains how SCRAM monitors detect alcohol in your body.
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Nancy Cladis of Idaho Monitoring Services explains how SCRAM monitors detect alcohol in your body.

Weight loss, dress socks and cologne.

Those are some of the things that may have caused Adam Paulson’s alcohol-monitoring device to trigger tampering and alcohol consumption alerts on Feb. 13, he told his probation officer, according to court records.

Paulson was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in the 2017 death of 24-year-old Maddie Duskey. He was sentenced in mid-January to 15 years of probation and no prison time; he served 14 months in jail prior to his sentencing.

The 44-year-old, arrested for alleged felony probation violation on a bench warrant Friday, denied the charge at his arraignment Monday. Fourth District Court Judge Deborah Bail ordered him held without bail until his next hearing, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. April 8.

In court Monday, a prosecutor told the judge that the company that manages the alcohol-monitoring device had confirmed that someone had tampered with it, and the data showed Paulson’s falling body temperature was consistent with alcohol consumption. Prosecutors weren’t convinced by Paulson’s claim that cologne on his ankles had caused a false positive for alcohol.

Paulson’s ankle monitor, called a SCRAM bracelet, triggered alerts on Feb. 13 — the same day he was in court for a review hearing before Judge Bail. Paulson must report regularly to the judge on his progress toward meeting the requirements of his probation.

The alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet began to detect tampering or an obstruction starting at 12:56 p.m. and ending at 11:22 p.m. on Feb. 13, and “alcohol was detected during the same time period,” a Feb. 14 letter from Idaho Monitoring Services shows. There were 19 times that day listed in the monitoring company’s report as a “potential tamper.”

On Feb. 15, Paulson sent an email to his probation officer, letting him know that he stopped off to have his alcohol-monitoring bracelet refitted because he’d lost weight, court documents show. While there, he said in the email, he received the report about the tampering and alcohol alerts. He told his probation officer that he was getting ready for his court hearing at the time the alerts started, and that his dress socks may have blocked the ankle monitor and his cologne might be the reason alcohol was detected.

Five days later, on Feb. 20, Paulson’s probation officer responded to his e-mail.

“OK, thank you for the update,” he wrote. “Issues like this do happen on occasion but are not common. I would rid your personal effects of anything that contains alcohol: cologne, cough medicine, anything at all. It is imperative that there are no more issues between now and the next court date, which I’m sure you already concluded.”

Paulson’s attorney, a public defender, said in court Monday that the device did not have three readings in a row of .02 blood-alcohol content or higher, which he said is required for a positive test for alcohol. He noted that Paulson’s probation officer did not impose any of the 180 days of discretionary jail time after hearing about the alerts.

“This is a prosecutor-filed probation violation,” Paulson’s attorney said.

He said Paulson had finally found a job — required as part of his probation because he’s been ordered to pay child support for his children and Duskey’s two children — but was missing work due to his being held at the jail on the alleged probation violation.

Paulson’s sentence on his conviction for vehicular manslaughter was viewed by Duskey’s family and others as extremely lenient, and the national director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving asked the Idaho Judicial Council to review the case.

Paulson, who was on probation for a domestic violence conviction and whose blood alcohol level was nearly triple the legal limit the night of the crash, is appealing his conviction. His attorneys claim that an investigation into the crash shows that no one could have avoided hitting Duskey that night, even a sober driver going the speed limit.

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Katy Moeller has worked at The Idaho Statesman for 13 years. She’s a generalist, an investigative reporter and a feature writer who has been on the breaking news team for a decade. She was Idaho Press Club’s 2016 Print Reporter of the Year.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

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