March 28, 2006
Misusing police power ...
Re: "TABC stakes out bars in intoxication sting," Friday news story.
I am a former federal agent who enforced the nation's alcohol laws and had considerable experience working with state liquor-control agents (other than in Texas). These arrests for public intoxication inside bars are an egregious misuse of police power.
State law says that "public intoxication" is an offense if a person is in a "public place" and may endanger himself or others. The law also prescribes the blood-alcohol level required to be "intoxicated."
The arrests took place on "private" property, and there is no evidence that blood-alcohol tests were given. I suspect this case eventually will reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices might well rule that the words "public intoxication" connote that the person is in a "public area, such as a street, parking lot or vehicle in a public area."
DWI is a horrendously costly crime. Does that justify arresting people on private premises who had no intention of driving after drinking? I think not.
Richard C. Rhodes, Honey Grove
The article I responded to was about the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission making arrests for public intoxication inside bars and hotel cocktail lounges (article appeared on March 24, 2006). One rationale given was that the arrests were a proactive measure to prevent Driving While Intoxicated (DWI/DUI). Many of those arrested were guests of hotels who said that they had no intention of driving anywhere.Back to the list of Topics in this Section