Wednesday, June 29, 2005

TABC wants to shut down the Dallas Nite Club

Police arrested 21 people who drank at the Dallas Nite Club were arrested for DWI, an official says.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is trying to revoke the license of Austin’s popular Dallas Nightclub because the agency says the club sells drinks to intoxicated customers and has a weekly promotion that encourages people to get drunk.

Lt. Robert Saenz, who works in the TABC's Austin office, said more people have been arrested for drunken driving after leaving the Dallas club than any other establishment in the city since January. As of May 6, he said, 21 people arrested for DWI told police that the club was the last place they consumed alcohol.

To keep its license to sell alcohol, Dallas' management must prove to a state administrative judge that its employees are trained to spot drunken customers and that it is not encouraging staff members to serve alcohol to intoxicated patrons. TABC must show that the club is promoting drunkenness. The hearing will take place in a couple of weeks, Saenz said.
The crackdown on Dallas may soon extend to other bars and nightclubs throughout Central Texas, Saenz said. TABC officials are being aided in their efforts by police department statistics showing locations where drunken drivers bought their last drink — a question officers ask before making arrests.
Dallas, which has been on Burnet Road for more than 20 years, bills itself as Austin's premier country and western dance club.
Wednesday night is promoted as "ladies night," when Saenz said the club offers beer for 69 cents and all other drinks for $1.69. TABC officials said more than half of the 21 arrests happened on late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
However, police officers may be more aggressively patrolling Burnet Road than streets leading to other bars and nightclubs.
Dallas’ attorney said the club has worked to discourage patrons from drinking and driving. According to Dallas' Web site, designated drivers are given free nonalcoholic beverages and are eligible to win prizes.
Saenz said that Austin police began giving TABC investigators statistics earlier this year and that the numbers led them to look at Dallas' alcohol-serving practices. TABC officials met with club managers earlier this year.
In March, TABC officials conducted an undercover operation at Dallas and made a couple of arrests for public intoxication. They met again with club attorneys, who he said did not think the
Wednesday night promotion was leading to the DWI arrests. The attorneys said club staff would be more vigilant, Saenz said.
He said the effort was initially successful — only two people were arrested for DWI in March after leaving the club. But the numbers began swelling again.

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