Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Nanny State Gone Wild

From 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.
Note that this operation targets not only those who---in the judgment of the state---may become drunk drivers. It targets drunks in order to save them from themselves, before they jump off a balcony or walk into traffic. Government agents "infiltrate" bars, monitor the behavior of patrons, and conduct sobriety tests on the premises.

Coming to fast food restaurants in the not-too-distant future: agents of the nanny state monitoring overweight customers for excess calorie or fat consumption. As obesity increases and health care costs skyrocket, you think I'm kidding?


Blogger Hume's Ghost said...

Texas is the only state in the Union that I can say with 100% that there is no way in hell I'd live there. Too many crazy politicians there.

3/22/2006 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is neither Republican nor Democrat, neither conservative nor liberal - this is, as you say, nanny state gone wild. Once upon a time you could make predictions based on that sort of category: e.g. Republican/conservative would find this governmental over-reach, Democrat/liberal would sort-of stand up for individual rights to alter consciouslness while stressing about how that might affect communal obligations.

But here, as seems to be the case so often any more, laws and policies do not seem to be implemented with any sense of broader implications, historical precedent or the fact that they are serving as precedent - and without the benefit, therefore, of any notion that there is some sort of individual liberty issue here, or indeed that there are philosophical/political implications and underpinnings at all. I had tended to put Texas as a majority Republican/conservative polity which therefore wouldn't go for this sort of thing - it's more a Democrat/communitarian wing approach - but I guess I'm just not getting it where current politics is concerned.

One appropriate response within my current control, however, would seem to be to have another glass of wine, which I intend to do immediately. And please keep up the good work.

3/22/2006 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure it's no coincidence that the sting occured in Irving, TX, headquaters of MADD. And as reported by the local NBC news affiliate, among those arrested were hotel guests drinking AT HOTEL BARS WITH NO INTENTION OF LEAVING. This isn't just nanny state, it's police state.

3/23/2006 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can mark it down as Republicans in this state trying to tell everyone to go to Church. Please note, our Governor signed a bill IN A CHURCH! This is a huge baptist state, you may not realize it unless you are here, but Baptist churchs and the bible thumpers are everywhere. MADD probably had something to do w/it, but this had to come from higher up in the chain of command.
Want to stop drunk driving? Put em in jail for a minimum of 2 years, no jury trial BS. Then no drivers license when they get out for another 2 years. Video recorders in each patrol car would pretty much take care of this issue toot sweet.

3/23/2006 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, isn't arresting drunks at a bar like handing out speeding tickets at a race track? I understand the point about public drunkeness including bars. But really. It's a BAR!

Ya know, I'm coming to the conclusion that I would be a lot happier if I stopped expecting things to make sense.

3/23/2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger DED said...

(Picking jaw up from ground)
Wow. With any luck these arrests will get thrown out of court. Maybe some intrepid lawyer will consider this an "illegal search and seizure" or the bar owner will claim that its a violation of his property rights. How can a bar stay in business if the patrons are all going to be arrested for drinking? With regards to DUI, don't the cops have to prove intent?

I'm a firm believer in the 2nd amendment, but with this sort of logic, why aren't they going around arresting people who own guns? After all they might shoot someone.

3/23/2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger David the Gyromancer said...

And this is Texas, which is supposed to be "conservative" country. What current day rightists mean by "conservative," though, and what the likes of W F Buckley and Barry Goldwater meant by it, are two different things.
... I'm a liberal, always have been, but the former kind of conservative has always had my respect, for the respect THEY have shown for the instutitions of our constitutional democracy. These new right wingers, though, are another matter.

3/23/2006 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually the TABC has been doing this, as funding permits, for at least 40 years. Usually most bar patrons get quiet and try to turn invisible when the TABC walk in.

3/24/2006 12:46 AM  
Blogger 277fia said...

C.R., You have no idea what goes on in NYS with MADD and the drunk driving in general.

Here in Suffolk County, you do community service before you get convicted. I understand why - if the courts assigned community service after the conviction, they would end up chasing people down to complete the service. But still...

All right, I confess to having been picked up for drunk driving once (Easter Sunday night) and I ran the gamut because I refused the breathalyzer test. I refused knowing the consequences because I couldn't bear anyone knowing just exactly how irresponsbile I had been.

I got 40 hours of community service and cleaned the ladies locker room and toilets at the Bayhsore Y where I learned a lot from my fellow drunk drivers. I recognized the guy from the Lindenhurst tool rental store. He bragged that this was his second offense in a month and that he wasn't in jail because he had a judge for a relative. (Arthur Pitts, maybe?) What does MADD say about that one?

Two of the younger offenders talked about drugs and driving. I had no idea what "Special K" was until I listened to them. One of them described driving around Middle Island high on LSD and other drugs. He thought he was really swift because the dumb cop didn't pick up on the fact that he was high as a kite.

I was told by one of the Y employees that I was the best locker room cleaner they ever had. The Y employees were pretty decent about your time. I f you stayed when they needed you, they knocked off a couple of extra hours off your service requirements.

LOL- The one and only time I ever bribed anyone in my life was at the Y. I had 8 hours to go and it was a beautiful summer afternoon on a Sunday in August. I really, really wanted my freedom so I offered to pay the Y guy $60 to let me off the hook for the 8 hours. At first, he demanded to know if I was wearing a wire. I proved I wasn't and we struck a dal. He only took $50. It was a kind of interesting experience being on the other side.

Drunk driving school is a joke. You take a test and if you answer any of the questions even halfway honestly, the state wants to mandate open-ended mental health counseling at your expense. I opted to walk for six months after being threatened by a former probation officer. I got thrown out of drunk driving school to boot.

Some of my classmates were real winners. One guy admitted to the class that he went down the wrong way of the LIE service road at 100 mph with three passengers in the car and guess what? No mandated mental health counseling for him.

One year, the Suffolk County chapter of MADD endorsed one district attorney over another. What was that about? What DA is for drunk driving? I think MADD is one of those organizations that has forgotten its real purpose and exists to provide fat salaries to the folks who run MADD. Endorsing products like Intelli-Check's smacks of corruption.

Here's a couple of ideas for MADD in Suffolk County. Start looking at the number of drunk driving arrests in Huntington Village on Fridays and Saturdays. I live across from the local one-stop and I can hear when the bars close at night but I never see any cops around. My guess is that too many drunk driving arrests are bad for business.

When I was arrested, I was asked if I had someone "on the job" by the arresting officer. That means if I had a relative or an associate on the police force, I would have been let off the hook. Ditto for relatives of judges, etc. A drunk driver is a drunk driver, period.

Why doesn't drunk driving school recommend AA? How do the mental health counsellors get on the approved county list?

From what I hear, Suffolk County is heads and shoulders above Nassau County when it comes to drunk driving. I know someone who got off scot-free in Nassau county with the right lawyer. No community service, no nothing.

By the way, I think I might have been able to bribe my way out of the rap by paying off the administrative judge (not the real one.) I was also told that since I was on private property when the police found me, I could have gotten off. I was guilty, end of story. To this day, I am grateful that I was arrested because I will never drive drunk again and risk killing someone.

3/24/2006 11:20 AM  
Blogger 277fia said...

BTW, I know a lot about the Nassau and Suffolk county bus systems. Riding the bus can be informative and fun!

3/24/2006 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Texas is nothing, I went to University of California, Santa Barbara. The Isla Vista foot patrol were a bunch of NAZI's. If you looked at them wrong, they tossed you in the drunk tank. Happened to me. I actually heard a story where cops were walking by apartments and looking in students windows. One kid had passed out on his floor, so the cop says, "my experiemce and training told that this individual was unable to care for himself."
He proceeded to kick in the door, and arrest the kid after waking him from his drunken sleep to haul him off to jail. And oh yeah, they searched his house and found drug paraphenalia and booked on that too. Unf*****believable these people.

3/24/2006 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if they use the same intoxification levels for public drunkenness as for driving. The designated driver program would be farce if they did.

3/25/2006 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why bother with the bars? Why not infiltrate the political fundraisers and government xmas parties? Lots of drunks there.


3/25/2006 6:23 PM  
Blogger BiggerBill said...

My knowlege of Texas law is a little lacking, but doesn't Texas still allow drivers to have open containers of alcohol in automobiles? Does this seem like a sane policy, to chase drinkers out of bars and into their cars>

3/26/2006 2:55 PM  
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Blogger Ian smith said...

Undercover agents have "infiltrated" 36 bars and arrested 30 drinkers. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says"We're doing it to stop drinkers before they get in a car, even if they're not going to get in a car, maybe they'll walk out into traffic and get run over, or maybe they'll jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss, anyway bars aren't exempt from laws against public intoxication".

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