New DWI task force cracking down on bars overserving patrons in Montgomery County

July 9, 2012 3:20:02 PM PDT
A crackdown on bars is happening in Montgomery County after two tragic collisions involving wrong-way drivers.

A new task force was created specifically in response to those crashes which killed five people. In both incidents, the drivers are suspected of being drunk.

There are more than 800 liquor licenses and now those servers are under the microscope to not overserve someone who is intoxicated, which investigators say is contributing to fatal accidents

Two wrong-way fatal crashes on I-45 over the last two weeks have the Montgomery County District Attorney's office scrutinizing where DWI suspects are getting drunk. The DA says the fatal crash investigations uncovered egregious overserving at at least two Woodlands area bars.

"One person was served 22 beers and another person was served, I don't have an exact number, but more than 20 alcoholic beverages including shots of hard liquor on one night in just a matter of hours," said Warren Diepraam with the Montgomery Co. DA's office.

Investigators tell us those people left the bars and got into fatal crashes on I-45. Within 48 hours, five people were killed in Montgomery County. Now the DA's office has formed a DWI task force, sending law enforcement into bars and restaurants to educate the owners and employees.

"It's not only a responsibility of safety to the community that they have to us citizens of Montgomery County and southeast Texas, but also they could face both criminal and civil and administrative liability for overserving," Diepraam said.

In the five days since the task force has been operation, there have been 65 DWI arrests. And Diepraam says this is not just a Montgomery County problem.

"Harris County drinkers come up here and then drive back, and Montgomery County drinkers go down to Harris County and drive back, so it's a problem for all of us," he said.

A server can go to jail for a year and face a $4,000 fine. The place of business can also face charges and could have their liquor license revoked.

We worked on this story through our partnership with Houston Community Newspapers. You can read more in the Courier of Montgomery County.


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