The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says they are hitting the problem at the core. That means taking drunk people out of the bars before they become DWIs. It all starts September 1st.
We hear nearly every day messages from police, Mothers Against Drinking and Driving, victim’s families about the consequences of driving drunk. Some people are still not listening. Last year, Lubbock police and DPS arrested more than 1,000 drunk drivers. They saw more than 400 crashes involving alcohol and 32 people died because of drinking and driving.
T.A.B.C. Lieutenant Harry Schreffler says those numbers just keep getting worse. Now, state-lawmakers are insisting T.A.B.C. bring down those numbers. Schreffler's goal is to decrease DWIs by 20% next year.
He says to do that, agents are planning to hit the problem head on. an approach he says Lubbock may not be able to handle. “Being intoxicated in a bar is not acceptable,” said Schreffler.
He says T.A.B.C. will be in more bars, write more public intoxication tickets and put more people in jail, more so than Lubbock has ever seen. "If the public really wants to reduce the DWI rate, we're going to have to or those people who drink too much will have to own up the consequences."
T.A.B.C. has full confidence this will work. They had a pilot program in Arlington, just west of Dallas, where they focused on one area with many bars nearby. They aggressively handed out PI’s and says in that time frame, was able to reduce the DWI rate 90 percent.
Using a map of Lubbock, Schreffler has pinpointed the problem areas.
He pointed out that more drunk drivers are coming from the Depot District and the “Strip.” The map also reveals danger zones in Southwest Lubbock near restaurants on Slide Road, also north Lubbock near Avenue Q.
For the next month, Schreffler has agents targeting places where people are getting drunk.
In September, they will start issuing more PI’s and taking people to jail. “If they're taking precautions and being responsible about it, how do you handle those people?” asked NewsChannel 11. “The law allows us to cite and release. But, it's a lot of liability on the police officer to cite and release a drunk person. If we can release them to a responsible person, our agents will be doing that,” says Schreffler.
T.A.B.C. says they will give sobriety tests, not breathalyzer tests to determine if someone is drunk. That is a concern to restaurant and bar owners.
Last October, Lubbock bars and restaurants complained that T.A.B.C. harassed customers by arresting people who were not drunk. However, a statewide investigation showed no wrongdoing.
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