TABC agents to fine bars who over-serve on New Year’s Eve

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

AUSTIN, (KXAN) — The Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission says they will be out in full force making sure bars are not over-serving customers this New Year’s Eve. They will also be cracking down on bars offering all-you-can drink specials, which is illegal, unless it is a private party.

“TABC is going be out and we’re going to be visible,” said Capt. Harry Nanos. “We absolutely want to get out there and let people know that we are out.”

Nanos says bars offering the all-you-can drink specials are not only illegal, but dangerous.

“If you pay a price and I can drink all I want it’s hard to monitor those folks and how much they’re consuming, so it’s a problem.”

At least 15 agents will be out and on the street focusing on the bars downtown. Any bar caught breaking the law could be fired or even suspended.

“It’s the system and you have to follow it,” said Eric Leonard at J Blacks on West 6th Street, who says they won’t even let customers in the door if they feel like they are already too intoxicated. “We serve alcohol and we make money off of it. We’re entertaining people but once they leave this door they’re still ultimately legally your responsibility, so you want to make sure you’re covered on all ends as a business.”

That’s why for these bars, safety is the top priority.

From January to September of this year, Kung Fu Saloon tops the list of bars DWI suspects last visited before getting pulled over, according to Austin Police statistics. A new lawsuit against the bar was filed after a man claimed he was paralyzed after a drunk driver hit the cab he was riding in. The lawsuit says the accused drunk driver had just left Kung Fu Saloon and was served drinks despite being clearly intoxicated.

The bar says they strictly follow the TABC guidelines and staff is trained not to serve patrons who are impaired. “Ultimately bar owners rely on every customer to exercise personal responsibility and good judgment regarding their actions, especially as it pertains to driving after leaving an establishment,” Kung Fu Saloon said in a statement.

Austin Police will also be enforcing a “no-refusal” on New Year’s Eve, with more officers and judges on hand to approve blood draw warrants.

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