Sunday, October 01, 2006

Top five bars drunk drivers say they were last served

KXAN NBC Austin obtained a list from Austin police identifying the top five bars drunk drivers say they were last served. It’s information meant to help curb DWI’s, but is it working?
Officers are asking suspected drunk drivers this question — “Where have you been drinking tonight?”
Several bars keep popping up as answers. Some more than others.
It’s a top five list no bar wants to be on. So far this year, more and more drunk drivers say they were partying at:
Cedar street,
Rain,
Club Carnaval,
Blind Pig,
Oilcan Harry’s.
“We try to get these officers to ask them, ‘Where have you been drinking?’ If it’s a business establishment. To give us an idea of are there any violations at those businesses that are already serving to people intoxicated?” APD Lt. Craig Cannon said.
So APD hands the list over to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, but it doesn’t seem to be going far.
TABC agents used to go into the bars on the list just about every night, undercover, looking for overserved patrons and arresting them before they got behind the wheel.
That was causing a lot of controversy. TABC agents were spotting drunks, just by looking at them. So the program stopped.
The problem of drunk driving has not. APD’s own research shows the number is on the rise. In all of last year, there were 5724 DWI arrests. So far this year, there has been 4165 arrest. Police say they average hundreds of arrests a month.
“We’d love to stop them before they get in the car,” Cannon said.
KXAN NBC Austin asked: “Some TABC agents may be thinking all the DWI’s we’re seeing, maybe it’s because we stopped this program?
Cannon said: “Oh no, it’s not related to that. It didn’t change anything we did. We still arrest the same DWI’s like before. We still ask the date, and we still trap the data. Regardless of the TABC policies or procedures.”
A TABC spokesperson says the agency still believes in its undercover program and are currently looking over its policies. So until then they are just holding on to the bar lists.