The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is performing the biggest DWI crackdown Lubbock has ever seen. NewsChannel 11 first told you about the plan in July. TABC identified the problem areas where the most DWI citations occur. Now they are targeting bars in those areas, making public intoxication arrests before they turn into DWI's. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire rode along with TABC for a sting operation.
Public Intoxication Law Raises Legal Questions Among Area Bar Owners
Area bars owners are questioning what the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission calls a safety measure. Monday night, NewsChannel 11 took you behind the scenes of a TABC public intoxication sting. Our cameras caught five arrests at four bars. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire tell us some call the public intoxication arrests a safety measure others call it selective enforcement.
Saturday night's sting began at The Fox and The Hound. TABC visits 12 bars a month, either undercover or in uniform. We wanted to know what exactly officers look for. So on Saturday night, we rode along to find out.
It's just after 11 Saturday night. TABC officers haven't even gone inside Jake's Sports Cafe and already they have action. After giving a suspect a field sobriety test, they arrest him for public intoxication.
Sergeant Gene Anderson says officers must use careful judgement. The law reads a person commits an offense if he appears in public while intoxicated to the degree that he may endanger himself or others. So how do they differentiate? "This is may be in danger to himself or others. He can't follow directions." Anderson says the man could've been headed to his car. "Some of the things our officers look for is if they're walking out to the car, they're reaching in to get their keys out. Maybe you might find them asleep here next to the road. Other things may be they're argumentative, you see them trying to pick fights as they're coming out, those kinds of things."
In the meantime, undercover officers have been inside Jake's where they order beer and blend in with the crowd, looking for the characteristics Anderson just described. Officers arrest another man after undercover agents report him starting trouble with the staff.
The next three arrests come just after one at Bleachers in the Depot District. "See the eyes, look at the eyes." The eye test helps determine the level of drunkness. Anderson says he appears to be drunk because of his "sleepy look"; his balance is also a factor. The next gentleman admits he's drunk and opts out of the sobriety test, minutes later, officers arrested his friend.
So for the five gentleman, what starts as a night out involves a few too many drinks, ends at the Lubbock county jail. "In my opinion, because of these arrests, we may have saved at least two lives tonight. These gentlemen and maybe if they'd gotten into a car and left in a car they have hurt other folks. It's hard telling how many lives can be saved."
TABC has arrested at least 21 people for public intoxication since they started this public intoxication crackdown in September. The goal is to reduce DWI's by 20%. They'll release an official report next month, but right now officers say they've seen a significant reduction.
|Courts & Crime|