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Letters to Editor, Dallas Morning News, March 29, 2006

TABC misreads the law

Re: "Bar arrests elicit outrage," Saturday news story.

A serious point has not been addressed. Commission officials are quoted saying that "being drunk in public is against the law" and "we can't ignore somebody who's obviously breaking the law." What law?

According to the Texas Penal Code, simply being drunk in public is not a crime. Courts have ruled that it is not enough to just be intoxicated; you must be so intoxicated that you are a danger to yourself or someone else. It appears that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is trying to justify its own existence and the hiring of 100 new agents by arresting innocent people.

According to the TABC, "In fiscal year 2005, agents filed 18,345 criminal cases with courts across the state." I wonder how many were for "public intoxication," as defined by TABC, and at what cost per arrest to taxpayers.

J. Michael Price II, managing partner, Milner & Finn, Dallas

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