Not all cases using Soberlink require a professional monitor to oversee and manage the monitoring process. Cases that do not need a professional monitor are cases where the parties have good communication and a sense of shared power that equates to genuine cooperation. Cooperation is atypical of families struggling with alcoholism. Often people overestimate how cooperative they actually are because cooperation is a value that most of us like to think we hold.
Before staring Soberlink monitoring, here are ten reasons to use a professional monitor to oversee the Soberlink monitoring:
1. An objective third party (i.e., professional monitor) can help negotiate any conflicts along the way. Typical conflicts that arise are, requests to change the testing schedule, sudden changes in parenting that affect the testing schedule, disputed positive results, missed tests, late tests and complaints about device errors. For example, I will receive calls where the monitored client states, “I took the test why did it not register?” My response is usually the same, “Did you check your device history?” and/or “Your agreement states that you are to wait and confirm that the LCD screen states – Compliant Test Sent – did you do that?” Making sure a compliant test is sent is the monitored client’s responsibility. I suspect that if there is no professional monitor on the case, the other party will fold and not call “the dog ate my homework” excuse a non-compliant test. When non-compliance is overlooked it defeats the purpose of monitoring. The professional monitor is there to assure compliance by not overlooking non complaint behaviors.
2. If there’s an impending trial, or the need for a trial arises down the road, a professional monitor will have records of the monitoring events and will be ready to provide factual testimony.
3. A professional monitor allows the concerned party to retiring their role as the “monitor.” Ongoing alcohol problems in a marriage force the non-drinker into the unofficial role of monitor. Retiring of the role of monitor; the concerned party is able to move on with their own lives. This has a positive effect on the co-parenting relationship.
4. Soberlink monitoring without a professional monitor requires communication between the parties. This is in addition to all of the communication that co-parenting demands. Why add additional necessity for communication? A professional monitor facilitates and documents all communication.
5. An experienced Soberlink professional monitor is in a unique position to provide consultation about the best monitoring practice for each case. For example, one court order required a Soberlink test eight hours prior to parenting. This would have required a scheduled test in the middle of the night. A better scenario to rule out alcohol consumption before parenting is to set two tests, one prior to bedtime the night before, and one upon arising.
6. A professional monitor can change the testing schedule each week based upon the parenting schedule for testing during parenting time only.
7. A professional monitor eliminates any “he said-she said” conflicts.
8. There are many subtle behaviors that reflect non-compliance. For example one monitored client complained that a positive result was based on a device error. When I arranged for a review of the device the monitored client failed to take action to return the “errored” device for a new device. A professional monitor will identify subtle non compliant behaviors.
9. A professional monitor can arrange for an alternative alcohol test such as an EtG test when there is a missed Soberlink test. Ignoring missed tests has the potential to undermine the entire monitoring process. A professional monitor helps to keep the integrity of the monitoring process and helps to enforce agreed upon consequences when there is compliance failure.
10. When there is no communication between the parties, sometimes an attorney will step in and act as the monitor by receiving and responding to the Soberlink results. Most attorneys prefer to not step into this role. A professional monitor with Soberlink experience makes the most sense and is often the most cost effective.