Alcohol monitors are frequently ordered for pretrial screening, alternative sentencing, or probation. Without a doubt, it is an excellent tool to determine if the wearer is maintaining their sobriety.
It is a Preventive Tool.
Courts order alcohol monitoring in hopes that it would prevent the next drunk driving fatality, death, or injury to a wife or child in cases of domestic violence or not having to hear the good citizen of their community complaining about vagrants & public drunkenness.
- Alcohol monitoring is so prevalent that it is becoming increasingly rare to see a defendant leave jail without one.
- Alcohol monitoring is common, and defendants are often required to wear a GPS device in addition to an alcohol monitor.
- Defendants are usually responsible for the costs of these devices.
- The use of alcohol monitors and GPS devices is becoming increasingly common in the criminal justice system.
Where should it be utilized the most?
The best use of alcohol monitoring is in family court. For example, a non-custodial parent is awarded joint or partial custody but has had issues with alcohol. If there is a consumption event, the custodial parent is immediately notified so that the children can be removed for their safety.
Others that incorporate alcohol monitoring are fleets that employ professional drivers and commercial pilots, whose sobriety is critical to public safety. But sadly, in many criminal justice situations, alcohol monitoring is just a stop on the inescapable trip to jail for a violation and often with no opportunity for bail.
The Financial Impact
Defendants are often charged $12 to $30 a day for monitoring but cannot pay. All too often, it becomes a jailable offense. Unfortunately, in many jurisdictions, monitoring has become a revenue center with little regard to addressing the underlying issues or the loss of employment and the financial impact on families.
It is a diagnostic tool, not a cure.
Alcohol monitoring should be considered more often as a diagnostic tool. If a defendant cannot maintain their sobriety while being monitored, they may have a serious drinking problem.
Please note that I have never seen any study that cites incarceration as a cure for alcoholism. However, please feel free to e-mail me a copy if you are aware of any.
The Veteran’s Administration and Veteran’s Courts have well thought out programs and deserve high praise for their efforts. But unfortunately, continuing to an expensive monitor for a defendant then locking them up when they can’t pay, or drink accomplishes little if any good.
In conclusion, alcohol monitoring is a valuable tool that should be used more often in family court and other situations where public safety is of the utmost importance. However, no one should think that monitoring alone is a cure for alcoholism. Unless treatment is provided, inebriates will continue to populate parks and streets. As always, we can pay now for treatment or keep paying much more later.