Portable Alcohol Monitor

Portable Alcohol Monitor

Charlie discusses the portable alcohol monitor used in criminal cases for individuals without cars who are required to have an ignition interlock device.


Q: What is a portable alcohol monitor?

A: A portable alcohol monitor is a device you blow into throughout the day to prove to the court that you are not drinking any alcohol. It is often required when someone needs an ignition interlock device but doesn't have a car.

Q: Why would someone need a portable alcohol monitor?

A: If a judge requires you to get an ignition interlock device and you don't have a car, you may be required to use a portable alcohol monitor instead.

Q: What are the options for portable alcohol monitors in Travis County, Texas?

A: There are two options: the SCRAM Remote Breath from Recovery Healthcare and the Smart Mobile from Smart Start. You rent these devices from one of these companies.

Q: What are the testing windows for the portable alcohol monitor?

A: The typical testing windows are: 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM | Noon to 2:00 PM | 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM | 10:00 PM to midnight

You must blow into the device once during each window to prove you're not drinking. These windows can be modified with the judge's permission.

Q: Can the testing windows be adjusted?

A: Yes, with the judge's permission. Sometimes they can be reduced to three windows a day, or adjusted slightly if you have a late-night job.

Q: How does the device ensure it's you blowing into it?

A: The device takes a picture of you each time you blow into it to verify that it's not someone else using the device.

Q: Do I have to abstain completely from alcohol?

A: Yes, you must completely abstain from alcohol. There are no exceptions for special occasions like graduations, New Year's, or birthdays. Any alcohol use will be detected in the next testing window.

Q: How does the device operate?

A: The device operates on a cellular network, uploading your picture and test results to the monitoring agency. It can also store data if you're out of cellular range and upload it once you're back in the city.

Q: How important is compliance with the testing schedule?

A: Perfect compliance is crucial. Prosecutors will review your test results when dealing with your case. Skipped tests are treated as violations because they assume you missed a test to hide drinking.

Q: When might a portable alcohol monitor be required?

A: It can be required as a bond condition, a probation condition, part of a pretrial diversion program, or voluntarily to show you are not drinking.

Q: What happens if I miss a test?

A: Missing a test is treated as a violation, just like a positive test for alcohol. It is assumed you skipped the test to hide alcohol consumption.

Q: Is it difficult to maintain compliance with the testing schedule?

A: Yes, it can be very challenging to consistently meet the testing windows. It's important to be very careful not to miss tests, leave the device at home, or otherwise fail to comply. Some people manage well, while others find it very difficult due to chaotic schedules.

Do not underestimate the difficulty of maintaining compliance with a portable alcohol monitor. It requires diligent coordination and consistency to avoid any violations.