Alcohol Testing in Child Custody Cases, a State-by-State Overview

Alcohol use by one party is often an issue during family court proceedings, such as in divorce and/or child custody hearings. The BACtrack View system remote alcohol monitoring system can be an invaluable tool in such cases, providing solid evidence and giving the court the information it needs to make decisions in the best interest of the children.

We outline a few policies set by family courts for alcohol testing and monitoring in, state by state, and as of June 2017.

  1. Alabama: In Jefferson County, the Jefferson County Family Drug Court may order parental drug or alcohol testing, as well as participation in a rehabilitation program.
  2. Alaska: Family courts in Alaska may order alcohol testing on-site at the courthouse or remotely. Although urine alcohol testing is the most commonly used method, the court has used other methods as well, such as breathalyzers.
  3. Arizona: A party may petition the court to order random alcohol testing. If granted, the order is often carried out immediately, before the BAC has a chance to go down.
  4. Arkansas: Although there is case law to support alcohol testing in Arkansas family courts, the accepted methods are not clear. It is possible that family court judges would order compulsory alcohol monitoring via a certified breathalyzer.
  5. California: California Family Code section 3041.5 allows the court to order alcohol testing if there is evidence of alcohol abuse. It is interesting to note that in Orange County Family Court, blood alcohol and hair follicle alcohol testing cannot be compelled as these tests are considered too invasive. Since BACtrack View is completely noninvasive, it would make an excellent alternative.
  6. Colorado: In Colorado, family court judges consider several factors associated with alcohol use. Among these are the frequency of use and whether the children were present. Since BACtrack View provides timestamped, photo-verified, and location-verified results, it can supply comprehensive evidence regarding alcohol use to the family court.
  7. Connecticut: Family courts in Connecticut can compel alcohol screening, counseling, and therapy.
  8. Delaware: In this state, you may ask your attorney to file a motion with the court asking that the other party be ordered to undergo alcohol monitoring.
  9. Florida: In Florida, family courts are obligated to investigate allegations of substance abuse in child custody cases. Courts may be open to the possibility of random alcohol breath testing, like that offered by the BACtrack View system.
  10. Georgia: Family courts in Georgia may order a parent to abstain from alcohol use, either in front of their children or completely. BACtrack View is an ideal tool for monitoring compliance with such an order.
  11. Hawaii: Hawaii family courts require that any substance testing be accurate and provide precise measurements. As BACtrack View meets both of these requirements, it could potentially be used to provide evidence in family courts in this state.
  12. Idaho: Idaho has a Child Protection Drug Court system available for parents that abuse alcohol and are at risk of being a danger to their children. This system acknowledges that frequent, random alcohol monitoring is often necessary in these cases. BACtrack View fits these requirements and could be a potential tool in this court.
  13. Illinois: In Illinois, family courts will not consider alcohol use alone in custody decisions. The consumption of alcohol must rise to the level of “parental misconduct” and be shown to have, or potentially have, a negative effect on the children.
  14. Indiana: Indiana family courts have ruled that breathalyzer testing is a valid way to measure compliance with alcohol abstinence; therefore, a system like BACtrack View would be ideal for use in this state.
  15. Iowa: At this time, it appears Iowa only permits urine testing for alcohol monitoring in family courts. Of course, it is still possible for a family law attorney to petition the court to order breathalyzer alcohol monitoring.
  16. Kansas: Kansas is another state where family court judges tend not to frown on casual alcohol use by a parent, as long as that use doesn’t threaten the child. Since Kansas judges can order random drug monitoring in child custody cases, it stands to reason they can order random alcohol monitoring in instances of suspected alcohol abuse.
  17. Kentucky: Like many states, family courts in Kentucky have held that evidence of alcohol abuse by a parent is admissible for child custody decisions. This means that BACtrack View could provide powerful proof during proceedings in Kentucky family courts.
  18. Louisiana: Louisiana holds that many factors can influence child custody decisions. Among these is parental use of alcohol in front of the child. BACtrack View can be a powerful tool to help confirm or deny this situation.
  19. Maine: This state has strict rules regarding the accuracy of breathalyzers used in court cases. BACtrack View meets or exceeds these requirements, so a judge may allow its use in child custody proceedings.
  20. Maryland: There is a precedent of remote alcohol monitoring being used in Maryland family court cases, particularly when there is a pattern of abuse.  
  21. Massachusetts: A serious alcohol problem on the part of one parent is sufficient reason to award sole custody to the other parent in Massachusetts. BACtrack View can help provide proof of the existence or absence of such a problem.
  22. Michigan: A variety of factors play into child custody decisions in Michigan. Among these is the excessive use of alcohol or lying about alcohol use by a parent.
  23. Minnesota: Minnesota also has a precedent for family court judges ordering remote alcohol monitoring. Currently, seminars and councils are underway in an effort to expand the practice in the state.
  24. Mississippi: Mississippi family courts have previously ordered parents to refrain from drinking alcohol in their child’s presence. The other party could use monitoring with BACtrack View to ensure this order is being followed.
  25. Missouri: Under Missouri Civil Procedure Rule 60(a)(1), a parent may be ordered to undergo mandatory alcohol monitoring. However, if that parent has remarried or has a significant other, that party cannot be subject to the order.
  26. Montana: Family court judges in Montana may order alcohol monitoring in child custody cases, but no information on allowed testing methods was found.
  27. Nebraska: Courts in Nebraska have held that a pattern of negative alcohol tests may be used as evidence in family court to strengthen a party’s claim to sole or joint child custody.
  28. Nevada: If a parent can present evidence that a child is living in an alcohol-rich environment, family courts in Nevada will consider it in child custody cases.
  29. New Hampshire: Family courts in New Hampshire can order parental alcohol testing, but there’s no readily available information on the testing methods allowed.
  30. New Jersey: In New Jersey, family courts allow evidence of excessive alcohol use to be presented in child custody hearings. However, this evidence must show a pattern of abuse. With its many monitoring options, BACtrack View is the perfect choice to assist in gathering such evidence.
  31. New Mexico: Family law attorneys in New Mexico advise that alcohol use by a parent that threatens a child’s health or safety can be grounds for sole custody being awarded to the other parent.
  32. New York: New York family courts strongly consider alcohol abuse in child custody cases. Evidence of alcohol abuse, such as that provided by BACtrack View, may be used to remove a parent’s custody, contingent upon that parent successfully completing an alcohol dependence program.
  33. North Carolina: If a parent in North Carolina has a habit of alcohol abuse, the family court may order supervised visits or take away custody completely. Once again, BACtrack View could be used to provide such evidence.
  34. North Dakota: Family courts in North Dakota have held that alcohol abuse is sufficient reason to terminate parental rights or award sole custody to the other parent.
  35. Ohio: Ohio is another state that has successfully used remote alcohol monitoring in criminal cases. Given this fact, it is worth speaking to your attorney about BACtrack View if you have a child custody case in Ohio where the other party has a history of alcohol abuse.
  36. Oklahoma: Oklahoma state law states that custodial rights may be withdrawn if a parent “is dependent on alcohol or drugs and can be expected in the near future to seriously harm or attempt to harm himself/herself or another person as a result of such dependency.”
  37. Oregon: In child custody cases, Oregon law requires each parent to file a Parenting Plan, outlining rules and safety regulations that apply when the child is in their custody. If a parent has a history of alcohol abuse, the court can accept restricted or modified Parenting Plans.
  38. Pennsylvania: Family courts in this state can order random alcohol testing in child custody cases. BACtrack View is the ideal solution for effective, random monitoring.
  39. Rhode Island: Rhode Island family court judges will consider excessive drinking by a parent in child custody cases. BACtrack View can give you the evidence you need to defend your position or provide proof of alcohol overuse.
  40. South Carolina: South Carolina also allows attorneys to petition the court on your behalf for mandatory alcohol testing of the other party. Other than asking your own attorney to file a motion, in South Carolina a guardian ad litem may also request the court to order alcohol testing of a parent. In these cases, BACtrack View makes a convenient and reliable choice.
  41. South Dakota: South Dakota family courts allow alcohol monitoring via several methods, including breathalyzer.
  42. Tennessee: Family courts in Tennessee allow alcohol testing when there is reasonable suspicion of one or both parties abusing alcohol. Blood and breath testing are both approved methods.
  43. Texas: In Texas, a judge may order any party to undergo alcohol testing. Furthermore, the judge may order “surprise” testing, where the party must submit to screening before leaving the courthouse.
  44. Utah: This state sometimes uses “custody evaluators” in child custody hearings. These professionals are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or therapists. In addition to your attorney, a custody evaluator may petition the court for breath alcohol testing of the other party.
  45. Vermont: Vermont courts do allow compulsory alcohol testing of parents in child custody cases, but there is no information on which testing methods are accepted.
  46. Virginia: Criminal courts in this state have recently begun ordering the use of random alcohol monitoring in DUI cases through handheld, portable breathalyzer systems. In light of this, it is certainly possible that courts would be open to the option of BACtrack View monitoring in family cases as well.
  47. Washington: This state has shown willingness to restrict a parent’s contact with their child based on a “long-term impairment resulting from alcohol” under the code RCW 26.09.191(3). Random alcohol monitoring could certainly prove useful as evidence of sobriety in such situations.
  48. West Virginia: Courts in West Virginia can order the investigation of alcohol abuse allegations in child custody cases. The law requires that testing be at no cost, or reasonable cost, to the individuals involved, based on their financial means. BACtrack View is certainly a reasonably-priced tool for alcohol abuse monitoring.
  49. Wisconsin: Family court judges in Milwaukee are already using remote alcohol monitoring in divorce and child custody cases. These judges have found such monitoring particularly useful during contentious proceedings or when there has been a history or verbal and/or physical abuse.
  50. Wyoming: Currently, Wyoming courts use random urine tests for alcohol monitoring. There is no mention of breathalyzer monitoring, although a family law attorney to petition the court to order breathalyzer alcohol monitoring.


Disclaimer: The article above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice in any way. Consult a licensed attorney for legal help.

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