Texas Arresting People for Being Drunk in Bars

Texas is conducting statewide sting operations to find drunk people in bars and arrest them.

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokeswoman Carolyn] 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.”

Apparently, then, the members of the Texas ABC are drunk because it is hard to imagine anything more stupid than this. Indeed, the absurdity of this program is maddening.

For one thing, if being within the confines of an establishment dedicated to drinking is not sanctuary, one might as well just get a six pack or a bottle and sit outside. Or, hell, drive around town since at least the police wouldn’t know where to look. Further, while people might indeed do stupid things while intoxicated, any given arrestee may well have had provisions in place to prevent such conduct.

Update: Pieter Dorsman sees this as a dangerous extension of the doctrine of preemption.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. whatever says:

    “Drunk” is not defined in the article. I would assume that the nominal limit is blowing a .08, which is the illegal limit for driving a car, but maybe if you can show you aren’t driving it is higher.

    That being said, do you go get “drunk” every time you go to a bar? Every time you drink?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Whatever: I consume alcohol with great regularity but seldom, if ever, to excess. I just think this is a rather great infringement on liberty, not to mention waste of taxpayer resources, for virtually no counterbalancing societal gain.

  3. Patrick McGuire says:

    How do they reconcile a law against “public intoxication” and being drunk in a private establishment? I can see them arresting people as they leave the bar, but not while they are within its confines.

    Something tells me that these arrests won’t hold up under a legal challenge.

  4. LJD says:

    It’s all Ron White’s fault:

    ‘I wasn’t drunk in pub-lick, I was drunk in a bar! You threw me into pub-lick’

  5. cirby says:

    Something that non-Texans need to keep in mind is that the TABC has always been made up of this sort of jerk. They go out and do this sort of thing from time to time to remind everyone just how much power the TABC has over bar owners.

    There’s also been a stroing taint of corruption in the TABC, since officers have been known to get into deals with some bars where they would go out and harass other bars in the neighborhood. I’d bet that there’s somme big sports bar or the like in the area that got pissed because the hotel guests were getting decent drinks instead of watered-down crap…

  6. legion says:

    Ron White rules!
    “I didn’t know how many of ’em it was gonna take to whup my ass, but I knew how many they was gonna use!”

    But seriously, Patrick’s got the point – it’s not how you define ‘drunk’, but how you define ‘public’ that will determine how this travesty is handled by the courts.

  7. The public safety argument is ludicrous, as you could get drunk in your own home or apartment instead, and still leave the house, walk into traffic, drive a car, jump out your window, etc.

  8. brian says:

    I say everyone get together and file a suit against TABC, and someone put a stop to this madness. Whats next are they going to bring back the prohibition? If something is not done your next superbowl party may have some undercover visitors. How would that be, cause that’s what is next everyone who has a chance needs to fight back. There is no need to make preventative arrest for drinking, who is to say your going to drive. Are you going to arrest an angry person because you think they might get in a fight. I don’t think so, so what is the problem with drinking.

  9. parasites says:

    Your tax dollars at work. Texans have never been known for high IQ but I guess the police force in all countries are about the same … IQ challenged.

    They should start raiding homes for people getting pissed, how about nuking all homes in sight, there’s always a possibility that there is a tax payer getting pissed somewhere.