Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bar Patrons Being Arrested For Being Drunk?

(Via Reuters)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission's Carolyn Beck.

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.

The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.

"We feel that the only way we're going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this," she said.
"There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they're intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car," Beck said. "People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss."
She said the sting operations would continue throughout the state.

While I applaud the goal of keeping drunk drivers off the streets, this seems about as ridiculous as them going into a church and snatching worshipers out of their pews for listening to the sermon.

I’m no advocate for public drunkenness or drunk driving by any means, but I think they’re missing the point. The patrons of these establishments are more than likely there to drink alcohol, so finding a drunk inside shouldn’t be much of a problem. Inside the bar is where I want them to be. The threat to the general population begins when they leave.

Here’s a better idea: Assign an officer to a random bar parking lot in an unmarked vehicle and have the officer sit there and wait on the drunks to come to him. Trust me, they will!
A lot of bars hire folks they like to call “bouncers”. They’re job is to card people on the way in and throw (and I mean throw in the literal sense) unruly patrons out of the same door. Those are the ones you’re looking for in the sting operation anyway, and by doing it this way you can save a whole lot of effort. I’d also be willing to bet if you tipped the bouncer, they’d probably even put them in the car for you.

As for the polite drunks, stop them on the way to their cars and give them an opportunity to take a Breathalyzer test before getting into their vehicle. If they refuse, make them walk home, call a cab, or risk being arrested as soon as their car moves. If they have a designated driver with them and that person is driving, then you’ve still accomplished what you’ve set out to do: Keeping drunk drivers off the road!

I just think it’s a bit silly to go into a bar on a sting operation to find drunks. As long as they’re inside the establishment, they’re not driving and they’re not officially in public no matter how you twist the definition. They are in an enclosed bar that is in public, but as long as they’re inside, they’re not bothering the rest of us.

Nail them when they leave to go to their cars or roam the streets, not while they’re inside and not threatening the rest of us.

And by the way, if the problem were as bad as the picture painted here (which it may in fact be), another solution would be to make bars and alcohol illegal. Of course they won’t do that because they would lose the huge chunk of tax revenue that alcohol and alcohol related businesses generate and if they know history, they will also know that making alcohol illegal won’t solve the problem either. It will, however, practically ensure they will cease to generate revenue from it and that’s a risk they’re not willing to take.

By running sting operations, they are punishing lawful business owners by making a scene inside the very establishments they generate revenue from. It really doesn’t matter whether one agrees with the morality of the business in question or not. As long as the business is being operated legally, they should not be subjected to tactics that will surely have an effect on their bottom line. The punishment should fall on those who lack personal responsibility and pose a true threat to our safety.

Tags: , ,
, , ,

Technorati talk bubble
Locations of visitors to this page