Checking the numbers after 10 years of alcohol sales inside Lubbock city limits

Updated: May. 9, 2019 at 8:12 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock residents are used to being able to purchase beer or a bottle of wine in the city these days, but for years, these purchases required a special trip.

The week of May 6th marks 10 years since Lubbock first became wet, and allowed the sale of packaged alcohol within city limits.

For those who weren’t in the City of Lubbock 10 years ago, it’s hard to imagine that in 2009, Lubbock was known as the largest dry city in the country. A lot has changed since then, but not in the way many people expected.

“Well it kind of reminded me of Las Vegas, in that there are all the lights and signs and whatnot," said Assistant Chief Neal Barron. “And it was always really crowded out there on the, the weekends.”

10 years ago, The Strip on US 87 was the closest place for Lubbock residents to purchase alcohol without going to a bar or restaurant.

Melissa Pierce, former chair of the Lubbock County Wins Effort, said that she supported the vote because,“If you can’t allow alcohol, it makes us, it made us look like we are way behind in the times, and so I thought it was important for Lubbock’s image. And just for the convenience of it, it wasn’t safe to drive all the way out there to The Strip to get a six pack of beer. On Friday nights, there were hundreds of cars waiting in line to go buy what they wanted.”

But not everyone wanted the change. Joshua Allen, a former leader of the opposition, says, “The reason why I was against it was we were kind of giving up the control that we had. We could kind-of keep it in one place, confined in one place.”

Allen, who is now the owner of ‘Walk-On’s’, also had personal reasons for wanting Lubbock residents to vote ‘no’.

“I had to come to grips that I had an issue, I had a problem and [it] involved alcohol, and that was a problem inside of me... I wondered...other people that were just like me that I come into contact with at church and around town, what kind of trouble does that cause?”

When it comes to DWIs and alcohol-related crashes though, police say there’s no more trouble today, than there was 10 years ago. Since 2009, the number of DWI arrests has stayed about the same, even dipping lower over the past four years. The same can be said, for alcohol-related crashes, as the numbers are about the same this past year as a decade ago, even though the city has seen a population growth of about 35,000 people.

Assistant Chief Barron says these numbers can be attributed to many things that have changed over the past few years.

“Uber and Lyft came into the city heavily in 2014, and I think that had a pretty big impact on that. You also have to think about the social acceptability in society as a whole for driving while intoxicated - that’s the people that are coming of drinking age now, and probably for the last five years, they’ve heard that message consistently, since probably Junior High.”

There has also been an increase in the sale of alcohol inside city limits since the decision for Lubbock to go wet.

“I think the effort to make Lubbock a wet county has been overall positive. I’m just so excited that we have seen the positive benefits of it including the growth in business and the growth and convenience for people who live here," Pierce says.

We also received the numbers for public intoxication arrests. Those numbers fluctuated just like the DWIs; however, in general, 2009 compared to 2018 shows a slight decrease.

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