About a year ago, Austin, Tx., police began asking drunken driving suspects where they had their last drink, says the Austin American-Statesman. Officers began compiling a list of the most frequently mentioned bars and restaurants and sending the information to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.. Since this spring, it has issued citations against at least five of them, and it is trying to yank the alcohol license of one that tops the list. Forty people arrested for DWI since January have said they consumed their last drink there.
Austin is the first city to provide such statistics to the agency. Some of the targeted establishments cater mostly to college students, others to young professionals. Some bar owners and managers say it is unfair to use anecdotal, easily skewed statistics to launch investigations. They say statistics do not account for different club’s sizes and seating capacities. They also say a larger police presence in an area can push establishments up the list. In the past, agents often opened cases based on neighborhood complaints or tips from bar patrons who reported seeing intoxicated customers getting behind the wheel. The police department has added a citywide DWI enforcement team of 19 officers whose main responsibility is drunken driving arrests, although patrol officers continue to make DWI stops. Regarding the new practice of asking subjects where they drank, one officer said, “We understand that it is not scientific data. But we also understand that where there is smoke, there is fire.”