Montgomery County continues to saturate the streets with patrol cars at areas where they think DWIs may occur. In addition, it has also formed “task forces” to visit area bars and approach patrons as well as employees who they think have had enough to drink.
The mere presence of a law enforcement car in a bar’s parking lot, let alone a uniformed officer inside, is enough to kill the bar’s business and scare off any potential customers. Montgomery County officers claim that this is a DWI crackdown that will continue to occur until DWIs have diminished.
In addition, Montgomery County has set up “saturation patrols”, where a large number of officers are scheduled to patrol the roads at key intersections and locations (obviously right next to bars) and run checkpoints. In addition to dozens of arrests from these saturation patrols, hundreds of other tickets and arrests have also been reported.
Montgomery County law enforcement claims that it is not focusing its attention on the bars, nor are they blaming them. They claim that they are only there to educate patrons and employees of the dangers of drunk driving. Yet they are actually approaching patrons inside bars (those that are left), and letting them know how dangerous drinking and driving is.
Houston lawyers are going to be busy with this one. If it is entrapment for a patrolman to hide behind a tree or bush next to a road in order to catch people speeding, then surely it is entrapment for police officers to line up outside bars to pull everyone over that is blatant entrapment.
We have all heard of more covert ploys by DWI task forces such as marking tires with different colors to indicate how long a car has been parked outside of a bar. But to saturate roads around bars at peak times when they know that people are leaving is a bit much.
The bar owners are no doubt fearful of the repercussions that the roadblocks will have on their businesses. Employees must also be scared, as those serving alcohol already face stiff fines if convicted of serving an intoxicated person or someone involved in a collision after leaving the establishment. Employees who serve alcohol must already be TABC certified, and no doubt know the risks of serving someone too much alcohol.
Montgomery County is employing scare tactics to inhibit drinking and driving, but at the cost of local business’s livelihoods. While it is the combined responsibility of the person drinking and the person serving to decide when enough is enough, Montgomery County law enforcement are forcing local bars to wear scarlet letters of shame instead of encouraging responsible drinking.
A more suitable prevention program would involve community awareness of the problem, promotion of cab vouchers, and designated driver programs. Victimizing local businesses is not the way to solve this problem. If taxicabs were surrounding bars instead of patrol cars at peak times, imagine how many DWIs could be prevented.