Portable Alcohol Monitors

Portable Alcohol Monitors

Hello. I'm Charlie Roadman, Austin, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney. Today we're going to talk about the Soberlink alcohol monitoring device. You can choose from two different devices in Travis County. One is this Soberlink from Recovery Healthcare, and the other one is called the IN-HOM device from Smart Start. The Soberlink is more expensive. Okay. But I think it's a better unit. It is smaller and comes in a very small package you can put in your purse or backpack, or in your car, anywhere. Anyway, it's very discreet. So I think it's worth spending a little extra money to get this device.

In the windows that you need to blow within, okay, there's four in the day. 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM, so you just have to blow sometime in that window. Now you can blow at 6:50 AM. Right? So you don't have to blow at 5:00, but you could blow right before the window ends, 6:50. The next window is noon to 2:00, okay, so around lunchtime. The next one is 5:00 to 7:00 PM. And the next one after that is 10:00 to midnight. Okay. So you can blow at 10:05 and then be done and go to sleep. In fact, you can blow 15 minutes earlier than the window. Okay. You can't blow later, okay, or it'll say violation if you blow later, but 15 minutes before the window is acceptable.

They'll send you text messages when it's the window, when it's time to blow. You should also set an alarm on your phone. And what I suggest is set an alarm at the beginning of the window. So let's say it's the noon to 2:00 window. So set an alarm at noon and also set an alarm at 1:50, because sometimes at noon you're busy and you can't deal with it. You're on the phone with somebody, and then you kind of forget. So always set an alarm at the end of the window to make sure.

With these portable devices, you can't drink alcohol at all. Okay. And there is no excuse that is acceptable to the prosecutors. Your best friend's wedding, can't drink. Thanksgiving, can't drink. Christmas, can't drink. Your birthday, can't drink. It doesn't matter what the occasion is. The point of using this is that you have agreed that you're not going to drink.

Okay. The Soberlink device, it has a little USB charger. Okay. And the way it communicates with Recovery Healthcare is just over the Verizon cellular network. Okay. So it will send them a report, okay, a picture of you and what you blew every time you submit a report. It has the ability to keep, I think, up to 10 days worth of blows. So if you go camping and there's no cellular, it'll still record what you blew and the times. And then when get back to the city or wherever you have cellular, it'll upload.

To blow with within the window, you really only need about a minute. Right? You turn it on. It says, "Welcome." You push Submit. You wait for the light to turn blue. I heard a little click. It's sending test, it says in approximately 60 seconds. I can put it away right now and just be done. It doesn't take very long. Okay. So if you're in a situation where you can use the restroom, then that's plenty of time to blow into one of the devices.

If we've asked you to use this device voluntarily, we feel like it will benefit our plea negotiations. Sometimes we have the plea worked out in advance. For example, if you do this three or six months, then they will do this. Sometimes we're doing it on spec, meaning we're going to have you do the portable device and then show the prosecutors later and say, "Hey, look, this is what we're doing. Come on, give us what we want." I will tell you that we don't ask people to do this if we don't think there's a good chance that it will help get the result we want. Sometimes we do it for three months. I mean, three months is the minimum, but sometimes we do it for three months and the prosecutors say they want three months more. Okay. Deal, if we have to do it for that long to get the result we want. The point is that if we've asked you to do this, we think it will be valuable in the long run.

It is very important that you are perfect on this. Even one hot blow, hot meaning you have alcohol in your system, can ruin the plan. Okay. So if you blow perfectly for two months, three weeks and six days, okay, but then that last day you blow hot, there's some alcohol in it, the prosecutors just throw it away and go, "We're not giving any credit." Okay. Now the reason they don't want to give us credit is because if you can't not drink alcohol, when you know you're not supposed to, it looks like you don't have enough self control. And so for them, having tests with hot blows on them, don't cover their butts for doing what we want at all. It's got to be flawless. Okay. And if you miss a few tests by five minutes or 10 minutes, that's okay. That's not a catastrophe, but don't even miss it by five or 10 minutes. Okay.

What we want is just a perfect scorecard that says blue every time, blue within the windows, didn't miss any, no hot blows. We want flawless reports because we get these reports from the company, from Recovery Healthcare or Smart Start, and then we show them to the prosecutors and they go over them with a fine tooth comb. They're trying to figure out, "Were there any problems?" And if they find a problem, then they are less likely to do what we want them to do, which is obviously some form of reduction of the case.

Completing the Soberlink perfectly, okay, no missed windows, no hot blows for three months, six months or year, however long we need to do it for, proves that you did not drink for that time. Okay. And if you show the prosecutor that, it shows a lot of self control and it gives them an indication that the DWI won't happen again or is unlikely to happen again. Okay. So that's what we're proving.

Now, it's very difficult to do these things perfectly for, even for three months it's hard. Six months, a year, it's crazy hard. But if it was easy, everybody would do it, okay, and it wouldn't have some value, okay, to the prosecutors. It has value because it is hard. Okay. And so when I'm trying to show them who you are, okay, and how much self control you have, by showing them these printouts that you've done perfectly, impresses the prosecutors. They actually don't see perfect very often. Okay. Usually there's problems here and there. And our goal is flawless, flawless use of this for three, six months or a year, however long we need to do it to get the result that we want.

Does sending an email to me or the pretrial services officer or the prosecutor, or the judge, explaining why you missed a window help make them not hold it against you? And the answer is no. Okay. So there's not emailing me about why you missed a window. I mean, I guess it's okay for me to know. I mean, it is good for me to know, but I can't make the prosecutors say it doesn't matter. They're going to think it matters.

What if you missed a blow? Okay. What if you look down and you all of a sudden see your five or 10 minutes late on your window? Don't panic, but immediately go blow. Okay. As soon as you realize you've missed it, blow as fast as you can. It makes a difference when the prosecutors and judges and pretrial services officers are looking at the results, whether you blew five minutes late or an hour late or three hours late, it makes a difference. Because if it's five minutes late, it's less likely that you were just waiting for alcohol to get out of your system. Okay. So don't just panic and not blow, blow as fast as you can.

Okay. One final note, if you're using this device for any amount of time, three, six months, a year, whatever, the first feeling is going to be that it's incredibly inconvenient and it's very painful. And it is. It will be. But try to incorporate it into your life where you do something else, do some exercise or eat better, or just sort of incorporate it into a general life improving period. Okay. Because I will tell you, not drinking for a long time is like having a superpower. Okay. You will get an amazing amount of stuff done. You'll think way more clearly. Even if you only occasionally drank, not drinking for an extended period of time just puts us in a position that you can get amazing things accomplished. So I know this is a pain in the butt and I wouldn't have suggested that you do it if it wasn't valuable, because I know it's not easy. But do it, incorporate it with some other just general life improvement things, and we can turn this into something positive.