Stay-at-Home orders created a challenge for authorities to continue alcohol testing for DUI offenders during the Covid-19 pandemic. Fulton County DUI Treatment Court in Georgia chose a novel solution using BreathCheck™ portable alcohol breathalyzers from Smart Start.
The DUI Court Program uses a collaborative approach involving multiple legal and substance-abuse treatment professionals. The program lasts 24 months, typically combining assessment, treatment, testing, random home visits, support-group meetings and other requirements. The team works closely with program participants throughout the process to ensure individual compliance while encouraging accountability.
BreathCheck Portable Alcohol Breathalyzers as an Alternative
Bradley Jones, Behavioral Health Program Manager, said they began using BreathCheck about two weeks after Georgia’s Shelter-in-Place order took effect. He led the program along with Administrative Coordinator Cheryl Egan Fears.
Jones said that the program had used other methods of alcohol testing before Covid-19, including urinalysis. “So, we needed to find a way to make sure we continued testing during this time,” he said. “This is something we have to be doing.”
Smart Start Has the Answer
They approached Jessica Rocker, Smart Start’s Business Development Representative for their region. She suggested BreathCheck as a portable alcohol breathalyzer solution. Soon after, the program began using 120 BreathCheck devices, set up with customized random morning and evening testing schedules.
Jones said that portable alcohol monitoring isn’t just important from a deterrence standpoint, providing immediate response as opposed to urinalysis. It also helps program participants stay committed to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
“So many of our people want to prove they’re not using alcohol,” Jones said. “They really do want to show that they’re compliant. That’s why BreathCheck has been a great alternative.”
Not Just a Requirement, But Also Encouragement
For many, it’s more than just a requirement – it’s encouragement. Egan Fears says the support has been especially important given the limited contact they have with other people during the pandemic.
“There is a psychological aspect of it,” she said. “During Covid, they have been separated from their counselors and their groups. BreathCheck gives them a connection to the program, because they are always talking with each other. We want them to know that even though it is screening, we’re still watching out for them.”
Smart Start’s Business Development Rep Made a Difference
Jones gives a great deal of credit to Rocker for the BreathCheck program’s success. “She was always there to help make sure all of our clients got up and rolling,” Jones said. “Jessica has been very responsive, no matter what time we contact her, and she’s done everything she can to make it successful.”
Shelter-in-Place has ended for their area, but Jones said they’ll continue using the devices until a judicial emergency order is lifted, possibly in June. Even after that, he added, some of the BreathCheck devices may be used on a selective basis.
For more information, contact the Smart Start Business Development Representative for your region.