Alternative To A DWI Sentence Pays Off In Harris County Sober Court

In front: defendant Crystal Acuff. From left to right: Harris County Criminal Court at Law #3 Judge Nancy Fleming and Presiding Harris County Court at Law #11 Judge Diane Bull.
Harris County's SOBER Court recognizes DWI defendants who have completed the program aimed at providing support for alcohol abusers charged with drunken driving.

SOBER Court, or Saving Ourselves By Education & Recovery, is a 2 year intensive legal treatment program for people who have multiple DWI convictions. It's designed to rehabilitate high-risk participants , while increasing public safety by providing enforcement, treatment, supervision and support for alcohol abusers charged with drunken driving.

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says he's confident the program will make a difference.

"I've committed an incredible amount of resources and personnel to the success of this program, because I believe that this will be a huge huge part of our successful effort to take Harris County out of the number 1 spot in the country, for being the place where you die on the roadways, because of somebody else's inability to stay sober."

The offenders are selected and meet with a DWI judge twice a month as they go through rehabilitation. They must breathe into the alcohol monitoring devices 3-4 times a day, whether at work or at home and before they drive a vehicle.

Crystal Acuff was put on 2 years probation and participated in Sober Court. She says it saved her life.

"I have a problem. I need help. So I'm just truly grateful that the court system is here to be able to have a program like this."

Patrol deputies conduct random, surprise home inspections of selected defendants, but Acuff says it's worth it when you consider the alternative.

"It's either the death penalty like I said earlier. It's six feet under for me, or sobriety. It's a blessing to stay sober, because there's so much out there in life that we pass up every day."

About 90 participants are in the program at any given time.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...