Local Bar Favors TABC's "SIPS" Program; Disagrees With National Criticism - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/3/06

Local Bar Favors TABC's "SIPS" Program; Disagrees With National Criticism

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's public intoxication sting program hit the national spotlight in recent days, which has resulted in negative responses from people nationwide. On Friday, TABC put a special link on its website in response to the criticism.

The website says, "some of the coverage has been negative and it has resulted in phone calls and e-mails to our agency." The link also answers questions about being drunk in public. NewsChannel 11 has learned that because of the criticism Texas' House Review Committee will meet with TABC specifically to discuss how the program works and if it could be improved.

The main idea is to stop DWI's before they start, but some say officers going inside bars to arrest people is going too far. However NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire spoke with one local bar manager who says the program is working.

Hundreds of people head to Bleacher's Sports Cafe on a given weekend. Manager Graham Fontes says alcohol and a crowd can spell trouble, that's why they like TABC'S public intoxication sting program.

"Their officers going around to bars in the city, it helps everybody out. It's a win-win for everybody, it keeps customers safe, it keeps us safe, and it keeps them from breaking the law," said Fontes.

In November, NewsChannel 11 went with TABC officers on a public intoxication sting. During the operation, officers go into bars and arrest people who are drunk. Fontes says TABC's presence in recent months has helped patrons become more conscience of drinking too much in public.

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The point of the program is to help keep bartenders from over serving. The past couple months at Bleachers they say it's been working.

"Basically, the whole point is we don't want them getting on the road after having too much to drink and hurting somebody else," said Fontes.

In recent weeks, the program has made national headlines, but TABC has received negative comments in response. However, Fontes disagrees with the criticism and says he'd like to see even more TABC presence.

"They're not trying to bust people. They're not the bad guy, they're just trying to keep everyone safe and make sure everyone's obeying the laws," said Fontes.

TABC reports a reduction in DWI's in communities where they've conducted focus operations. In Arlington, DWI arrest decreased from just over 1,200 in 2004, to 996 in 2005. DWI arrest of people coming from licensed places dropped from 324 to 234.

Last fiscal year they issued over 1,100 citations for intoxication offenses. During the same time period this year they've already issued over two thousand.

A TABC statement says, "we have no way to prove these reductions are the direct result of our repeated "SIPS" operations; however, we believe that there is a correlation between our efforts and the decline."

(Click here to read the TABC's explanation of the laws that are being enforced.) You will need Acrobat to open this document.

3/24/06
Five Year Old TABC Program Now Gains National Attention
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's Kealey McIntire asked local agents what they think about the sudden national attention.

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