Comedian Weighs In On Public Intoxication Arrests
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission sent a message to bar patrons last week.
TABC agents and Irving police swept through 36 Irving bars and arrested about 30 people on charges of public intoxication. Agency representatives say the move came as a proactive measure to curtail drunken driving.
North Texans interviewed by NBC 5, however, worried that the sweep went too far. At one location, for example, agents and police arrested patrons of a hotel bar. Some of the suspects said they were registered at the hotel and had no intention of driving. Arresting authorities said the patrons were a danger to themselves and others.
"Going to a bar is not an opportunity to go get drunk," TABC Capt. David Alexander said. "It's to have a good time but not to get drunk."
Dallas comedian Steve Harvey agreed with the Texas residents who said the arrests infringed on individual rights.
"If a guy's got a designated driver, go ahead and let him get toasted," Harvey told NBC 5.
Texas law states that inebriated individuals could be subjected to arrest anywhere for public intoxication. Harvey and other North Texans called the measure extreme.
"That seems to be an extreme case," one man said. "You are self-contained, in the hotel, you're not going in the streets, it seems a little ridiculous."
TABC officials said the sweep concerned saving lives, not individual rights. Harvey and others interviewed by NBC 5 said they believe drunken driving to be unacceptable, although Harvey wanted to confirm that the United States remains a free country.
"Freedom of drinking should always be allowed, and it is only American to let a guy get drunk where he wants to get drunk," Harvey said.