TABC: Texans Against Booze Chumps
First off: TABC personnel say they are fully committed to maintaining a loose interpretation of Ordinance 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code. (“A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.”)
Second: The heat is still on. But third: While Fort Worth is on the commission’s hit list, our town’s not as high a priority as Dallas. (HA-ha.) Of the 60-plus new agents hired in September, 14 were assigned to Big D (including some sent to Longview); only four were assigned to Fort Worth. Fourth: The TABC is targeting hot spots or places near entertainment pockets where large numbers of DWI’s have recently occurred, which probably means that Sundance Square-area joints are hotter than hang-outs near, say, TCU or West Seventh. (For every DWI arrest, cops document where drunk drivers had been drinking.) Regardless, since TABC agents are acting at their own discretion, according to the commission’s Sgt. Terry Parsons, y’all better remain vigilant. When I went out last week, I couldn’t believe the number of people – kind, decent, upstanding functional alcoholics like me – who were traveling by taxi. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Lastly: Y’all should be pressuring your legislators, ’cause First Amendment lawyer Steve Swander, who not too long ago brazenly defended an Arlington Hooters against Christian fundamentalists, says a peaceful resolution to the issue lies not with bar owners or party people but with the state legislature. “The standard for public intoxication is pretty vague,” he said. “It’s not like a DWI, where you have an objective 0.08 breath content.” He thinks there needs to be “some objective tests or criteria” to better distinguish the concept of public intoxication from just having a kick-ass time, dude!
In the down time between firing off angry letters to legispeople, partiers may also want to start pestering the city’s planning department. The reason: mass transit.
See, in defense of the crackdowns, the TABC likes to trot out stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Based on a 2004 report, the most traffic fatalities per capita occurred in Texas. In total deaths, the state was second by one to California, a state more populous than ours by 13 million. Way more populous states, such as New York and Illinois, ranked low on the NHTSA’s chart, but not because Manhattanites and Chicagoans drink responsibly. (Have you ever been to Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field? You’ve never seen so many fall-down drunks in your life. I guess when 10 months out of your year is spent fighting through rain, sleet, and snow, getting to spend an entire day outside in the sunshine warrants one or two, maybe 17, cold beers.)
However, our neighbors to the far north have a little something that we sorely lack and that would probably cut the number of annual DWI fatalities here in half. That’s right, mass transit. I’m not saying we free-spirited, independent-minded Texans should hang up the car keys for good, but being able to party in Clubland without having to worry about driving home would definitely make everybody happy, even the booze nazis.
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