Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia Intensifies The SOBER Program

Time to SOBER up.
Time to SOBER up.

There's a better chance these days a deputy of Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia will come knocking on the front door of your home demanding proof that your once-drunk self is remaining clean and sober.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office is in the middle of an increased push in its SOBER program (Do you want the acronym? You know you do: Saving Ourselves By Education and Recovery. Okay, maybe you didn't really want the acronym after all.)

The program uses seized criminal assets to fund overtime for as many as 14 deputies to participate:

Patrol deputies conduct random, surprise home inspections of defendants selected by judges to participate in the SOBER Court -- a comprehensive abstinence program designed to rehabilitate participants who risk continuing to succumb to addiction....Working five days a week, the deputy teams will perform breath tests on the defendants, look for signs of non-compliance with the program (such as possession of alcohol, firearms or illegal drugs) and check equipment defendants have been ordered to use, such as mechanisms that prevent vehicles from starting unless the driver provides a breath sample clear of alcohol.

The announcement came with some macho talk from Garcia as he addressed SOBER graduates:

"I will do anything in my power to get Harris County, Texas, off the top of the list of DWI-related traffic fatalities in the country. We don't want you before these judges being tried for involuntary manslaughter. If you think my deputies or any of these judges are playing, try us. We'll hold jail space for those of you not listening. We're going to be extremely serious about your success."

County Criminal Court-at-Law Judge Robin Brown, who is among the three judges involved in the program, also chimed in: "For a few years now, Harris County misdemeanor courts have blazed a trail in the handling of certain DWI cases where this rigorous program for defendants makes better sense for the public than previous inflexible approaches. The program has 'graduated' many defendants who gain the tools to live a sober life and become productive members of the community, therefore no longer cycling endlessly through the jail and the rest of the criminal justice system."

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