Sobering station for intoxicated people to open in Santa Clara

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Sobering station for intoxicated people to open in Santa Clara
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Drunk people don't necessarily need to go to jail-- that's the theory behind Santa Clara County's new sobering station that will open at the end of September.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- You've heard of drunk tanks -- places where people who are severely intoxicated are taken so they can sober up.

Santa Clara County is joining the ranks of Bay Area counties offering a new solution for the common problem. It's called a sobering station.

"There'll be two large rooms with sobering recliners in them -- one for male, one for female," said Deputy County Executive Gary Herceg.

The future home of Santa Clara County's sobering station will have recliners, meant to offer an intoxicated person a comfortable and safe place to sober up.

"What we're trying to do is broaden our minds and make sure that we're being much more effective in how we're treating people who come in contact with police," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

The idea is that not all drunk people belong in jail -- especially when it comes to homeless people or those with mental illness.

The sobering station will start small with 4 to 6 recliners, laundry, and shower facilities.

The facility will cost $12 million over the next three-and-a-half years. The county believes it will be a more cost-effective option.

"Besides being inhumane, it's really expensive to have a police officer respond to 911 calls where a person could have committed no other crime than being drunk," Chavez added.

The facility will also offer people resources to get help for addiction. It's something the First Chance Sobering Center in Burlingame has been doing for 25 years.

"Everybody that's admitted here has the opportunity for intervention. We really focus on not having them come back," said First Chance Program Coordinator Deborah Bolin. "I don't like seeing people a second time."

By January, Santa Clara COunty plans to add a mobile crisis team that will meet police in the field and take individuals to the sobering station.