December 8, 2017 • By Dennis Beaver
“I am 42 years old, have two wonderful teenage girls who I love and can only visit during supervised visitation, as my husband has sole custody,” Angie’s email began. “Can you imagine how painful that is and it is all my doing as I’ve been an alcoholic most of my adult life and am now in a recovery program.
“The court-appointed supervisor requires that I blow into a breathalyzer at the Sheriff’s Office before she will allow me to spend time with the kids. I know that I must be sober, but is this is so embarrassing. Do you know of any other way I can satisfy that requirement without being in such a place?”
Today, remote alcohol monitoring is a reality
Angie, like many parents, has discovered the consequences of alcohol addiction. Family Courts across the country have held that alcohol abuse which threatens the children’s welfare is a sufficient reason to terminate parental rights or award sole custody to the other parent.
That said, Family Court judges in all states have also ruled that breathalyzer testing is a valid way to measure compliance with alcohol abstinence orders. While Angie’s visitation is supervised, what about cases where it’s not, a judge has simply ordered that no alcohol is to be consumed?
How could a parent in that situation prove by themselves in real time–with no one else present–they’ve had nothing to drink?
Today, remote, mobile verifiable alcohol testing services exist, and there are two California-based companies which address this need. One is from San Francisco-based BacTrack, which has the largest market share of personal breathalyzers in North America and is called the BACTrack View.
The other is The Soberlink, manufactured by Soberlink, based in Huntington Beach.
Both combine a professional grade breathalyzer that is wirelessly connected to a cloud-based web portal which receives a person’s blood alcohol concentration data and then sends that information onward.
These companies offer monthly subscription services with different features and at various prices to the user.
Developed after requests for a tool with verifiable result
“The ability to establish your blood alcohol concentration and send this information to a spouse, employer, literally anyone anywhere, proved the old saying that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention,” Stacey Sachs V.P. of Marketing at BACtrack told us.
“People were asking for a tool which would produce verifiable alcohol results and share that information with someone else instantly, no matter where they were. In family law visitation situations like your reader’s or employment where alcohol was an issue, people wanted some way to prove they had no alcohol in their system.”
As we learned, the BACtrack View is an app-based alcohol monitoring service which uses any smartphone’s front-facing camera along with their BACtrack Mobile, police grade breathalyzer–that fits in the palm of your hand–establishes the user’s precise blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and then sends that information anywhere in the world.
“The SoberLink is an all-in-one unit the size of two cell phones stacked back to back, stated Chris Beck, V.P. of Marketing at Soberlink.
Let’s suppose that Angie was permitted to use this new monitoring technology and no longer need to report to the sheriff’s office. How could the children’s father know that it was really her being tested?
Both devices establish identity, but in different ways. SoberLink uses facial recognition technology to confirm identity but does not send a photo of the person being tested.
The BACtrack View shows the user testing themselves. “Knowing that it’s really them immediately seeing their alcohol level, if any, gives me an added security and peace of mind about my loved one, my family member, whoever it may be,” Sachs notes.
The devices can be used for self-testing. While the BACtrack view can test someone else, Soberlink’s is restricted to the person assigned to the unit. Both record the date, time and the BAC results.
“Remote alcohol monitoring provides accountability and reassurance. For example, ‘Even though I know she has a drinking problem, I’m getting these good test results from her,” Beck points out.
For anyone serious about facing alcohol abuse head-on
The monthly monitoring services provided by BACtrack and Soberlink are a God-send to the world of alcohol treatment and recovery, to Family Law judges, families torn apart by alcohol addiction, anyone touched by this awful problem.
And it must be stressed that we are talking about monitoring services, not just “buy this and I can show you that I haven’t been drinking.”
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.