January 16, 2019
Austin – Today Rep. Celia Israel (HD 50) filed House Bill 830, a companion to Senate Bill 306 by Sen. Kirk Watson (SD 14), to clarify that an officer may divert an intoxicated individual to a sobering center in lieu of arrest or transport to the emergency department.
“This bill protects our police officers and allows them to continue to use this innovative diversion program.” Rep. Israel continued, “Sometimes, when you’re delivering cutting-edge solutions, the law has to catch up.”
“Passage of this bill will provide substantial progress toward combatting issues surrounding addiction in Travis County and Texas,” said Nancy Hohengarten, Board Chair for The Austin Sobering Center.
Sobering centers in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio provide a refuge for individuals to recover from intoxication in a safe and secure environment. These sobering centers provide an alternative to a county jail cell or emergency room and are a responsible and cost-effective solution.
“The Sobering Center in Austin not only sobers intoxicated individuals, but more importantly works to provide people with a substance abuse disorder immediate counseling and other essential services necessary for recovery,” said The Austin Sobering Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Rhonda Patrick. “This proposed legislation will enable the Sobering Center to serve more intoxicated individuals with substance abuse disorders.”
HB 830 and SB 306 allows law enforcement to focus their time on more serious offenses.
“The Sobering Center will play an important role in the continuum of care for our community,” Sen. Watson said. “The Sobering Center will not only keep people out of jail but connect them to the appropriate services in the brain health continuum.”
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Contact: Taryn Feigen