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Countywide : Board Takes Steps to Create Sober Station

In an effort to relieve the county’s already overcrowded jails, the Board of Supervisors has agreed to pursue state legislation that would establish a sober station for drunks instead of putting them behind bars.

At the request of Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, the board supported the idea of setting up a Sobering Up Station Pilot Program for the county. Only people arrested for public intoxication would qualify.

The sober station “in turn will directly help to alleviate our county’s jail overcrowding situation by freeing up valuable jail space in our city jails,” Wieder said.

County officials must now persuade a state legislator to sponsor the proposal, Wieder said.

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According to the most recent blueprints, the 20-bed facility would cost about $500,000 to launch and would be run by an outside contractor.

Los Angeles and San Diego counties already have sober station programs. According to Orange County officials, several groups support the idea, including the Police Chiefs’ Assn. and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

It is not the first time such a program--officially known as the Pilot Public Inebriate Reception Center--has been considered. In 1986, the supervisors tried to get it started but were not able to gain the support of other agencies that would be involved, county officials said.


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