Hogan's Alley

Friday, March 31, 2006

Behavior Police Start Actual Arrests In Texas

In case you missed it last week, the State of Texas has empowered its police to enter taverns and arrest any patrons unable to pass a sobriety test. They began in the city of Irving and featured the arrest of a man in the bar of the hotel in which he was a guest. He had gone to the bar for a few drinks before retiring for the night in the same building. He was not going to drive anywhere!

This came as a shock to me because public intoxication laws were eliminated from the books in the northeast decades ago as an unwarranted intrusion on people's liberty. In fact, it was the elimination of those laws that, in part, prompted the need for homeless shelters. Serious alcoholics who could previously be incarcerated, especially in the winter, and be provided three hots and a cot, were now sometimes dying on the street or losing limbs to frostbite.

Apparently in Texas, and probably elsewhere in the Bible Belt, moral approbation of the use of alcohol has continued to be enshrined in the law. Of course, advocates of the law insist it is done to protect the drinker from potentially hurting himself or others. It also is seen as more efficient than having to stop and test erratic drivers once they are actually behind the wheel of a car.

Now apparently the publicity about this new tactic has generated an uproar. Texas state officials are shocked, shocked that they are being called Nazis, Taliban and Gestapo. The legislature will now look into the policy, established by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

As Glenn Reynolds says, "Even though a Senator is not planning on taking bribes from the underage-goat-sex lobby, that could change in an instant. Best we lock them all up now."

Further proof that the best and the brightest among us are not being drawn to serve in politics.