A TABC program that's been around since 2001 is now gaining national attention. It's called "Stop Sales to Intoxicated Persons" or "SIPS." NewsChannel 11 brought you an investigative story in November detailing how local undercover TABC officers go into bars and arrest you if you're legally intoxicated and posing as a danger to yourself or others. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire asked local agents what they think about the sudden national attention.
TABC Crackdowns Helping to Reduce DWI's
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.
You could use the term "pleasantly surprised," that's because the SIPS program is nothing new. In September local TABC officers really started focusing on public intoxication arrests in Lubbock bars. Local agents don't know what sparked the sudden nationwide interest in the program, but they say the attention is positive.
A story that aired on the Today Show Friday morning, highlights how TABC agents go into bars and arrest intoxicated persons. Dallas TABC Agent Sgt. Chris Hamilton said, "We want everyone to be responsible, we want the people going out having a few drinks to be responsible drinkers."
The program is also making MSNBC's internet headlines. Local TABC agent Lt. Gene Anderson saw a discussion on the program on another national TV network. "From the program I watched this morning some people are against it and some people are for that," says Anderson.
He says the goal is to stop DWI's and other dangerous activity involving alcohol before it starts. However the PI stings are not new.
NewsChannel 11 rode along on a local TABC sting in November. Agents try to visit 12 bars a month. Anderson says he doesn't know what sparked the sudden national attention, but says it's a great way to spread their message. "It makes sure that we're all on the path we should be, that we're moving this thing forward. I'm very proud of the agency and this program," commented Anderson.
In September, local agents began shifting their attention from minor stings to public intoxication stings. Anderson says bar owners have been cooperative some bar owners have even asked for help training employees on how to recognize public intoxication.
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"I think everyone wants it to be move safe and do whatever it takes to get to that point. That's the feeling I get from Lubbock," said Anderson.
The law states "you commit an offense if you're in public while intoxicated to the degree that you may endanger yourself or another."
Anderson tells us they look for dangerous behavior, such as someone possibly walking to his car or someone who's argumentative. Officers will conduct a field sobriety test, if they determine you're intoxicated they take you to jail.
The goal is to reduce DWI's by 20%.
What can TABC do to Better Protect the Public?
Is the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission doing everything it can to crack down on intoxicated situations in Lubbock? NewsChannel 11's Cecelia Coy talks to people who say no to that question and others who say yes.