Texas Arresting Bar Patrons for Being Drunk in the Bar

You really have to wonder how many people who would have had no plans to drive while drunk are getting caught up in these arrests. This is pretty depressing, and it is even more depressing that it is occurring in Texas of all places, which has long seemed to prize individual responsibility. It reminds me a little of Sweden when I went there in the late 1970s and the government was removing people by force from their homes and taking them to medical facilities if they were drinking too much (though what was happening in Sweden was obviously worse). I suppose though that this Texas policy could eventually move in that direction.

Many North Texans are complaining about a controversial program during in which state officials arrest people inside bars in order to crack down on public intoxication.
The program began years ago, but during the most recent legislative session, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission asked for and received more money to ramp up the operation.

As a result, the TABC hired 100 agents to travel from bar to bar looking for drunk people who could pose a danger in an agent's opinion.

TABC officials said the program is proactive policing to cut back on drunken driving, but those arrested said it is unfair to arrest someone inside of a bar.

One bar owner, who asked NBC 5 not to use his name for fear of retaliation by the TABC, said those arrested were not causing a disturbance.

"I can understand if we had somebody laying in a booth and they were basically passed out and drunk, I could understand for them to go in with the flashlights and take them out of the booth and arrest them, but these people were standing and doing fine," he said. . . .

UPDATE: I just heard on Fox News tonight that some of the people arrested where arrested in hotel bars and they were staying at the hotel! They also mentioned that over the last two months some 2,000 people have been arrested in bars.

See also this piece from the Dallas Morning News:

Big Brother has gotten mean and sneaky.

In case you hadn't heard, you can't get wasted in a Texas drinking hole these days without fear of going to jail.

And your bartender might be hauled off with you.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is cracking down on public intoxication by going right where you'd expect to find somebody who may have had one too many – bars and nightclubs.

Apparently, the agency loves to shoot fish in a barrel.

Jokes aside, the campaign has caused a public uproar the likes of which I haven't seen around these parts in quite some time.
Within hours after The Dallas Morning News wrote about the crackdown, dozens of e-mails came pouring in yesterday against the TABC.

Folks are outraged, accusing the TABC of "Gestapo-like" practices, of trying to usher in a new era of alcohol prohibition, of being too lazy to go after drunks causing real problems.

Those were the nicer ones.

The TABC's district offices have been flooded with calls across the state.

Still, the agency isn't backing down. Capt. David Alexander, the man in charge of the North Texas region, said he isn't the least bit embarrassed by all the national attention the campaign is drawing.

"We don't feel embarrassed or ashamed, and we feel like we're making a difference by holding the bars accountable and reducing the potential for DWIs," Capt. Alexander said in a telephone interview, one of the countless media calls he has fielded. . . .

The way the TABC figures it, if it can cut down on the number of tipsy people leaving bars and restaurants, it can reduce the number of DWI-related accidents and fatalities.

That's an admirable goal. Plus, the truth is, public intoxication is illegal, too – and to the surprise of several people I talked to yesterday, bars are public places. Still, you have to draw the line somewhere. . . .


Anonymous Paddy said...

If they tried that one in the Emerald Isle, there would be a revolution. well, there would after a few more pints of wife-beater (beer) to steady the nerves and take them to closing time first.

In Britain and Ireland alike, drinking has become the national sport.

It would be interesting to know what the relative participation rates are between drinking and shooting and how those relate to accidents injury and death per participant and per hour of participation. Not to mention the paralytic girls who get raped...(anyone read Bill Buroughs, writing about "working the Lush" in "Junkie").

Another interesting question is the effect of targetting bars?

My teenage years naturally involved underage drinking and getting ratted on a sunny hillside was a lot nicer than doing it in a bar where we might get caught. Is texas about to see the return of the speak-easy? or just of folk getting ratted at home or in a truck on a dirt track?

The US has experimented with alcohol prohibition, Britain with gun Prohibition and all with drugs prohibition.

None solved a problem, for drink prohibition, why get caught with beer when whisky is worth so much more?

(I know one man who went blind on dodgy potin, his drinking friend died)

For drugs, what the hell with carrying around a big bale of hash when crack is worth so much more?

The British newspapers are full of what contraband guns are popular with the outlaws, and they haven't had to resort to homebrew versions yet...

3/25/2006 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got an idea. Why not remove all parking from bars? That way you would have to call a taxi to get to and from the bar. I figure there is a better chance the cab driver would be sober.

3/26/2006 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It absolutely ridiculous that they are doing this. No doubt funded by the religious right sticking their noses into places where it doesn't belong. The money would have been far better spent on additional police to patrol the streets at closing time. I swear the so called 'Christians' in this country are becoming their own sort of terrorists.

To arrest someone in a hotel bar when that patron is staying at the hotel reeks of Gestapo tactics. How they can possibly say these people pose a danger is laughable, as they were obviously coherent enough to stand and argue, and not one of the ones shown were violent in any way.

I look forward to a small riot where many TABC employees are trampled and beaten to a bloody pulp.

It's the little joys in life...

3/28/2006 7:31 AM  

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