HPD to keep track of which bars over-serve and send warnings

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston police officers are now going further than just trying to bust drunk drivers. They're following up by finding out which bars may be over-serving customers.

During a press conference Thursday discussing an HPD officer's injuries after being hit by a suspected drunk driver, police chief Art Acevedo announced the new strategy of asking drivers where they were drinking before getting behind the wheel.

Pete Mitchell, owner of Under the Volcano, said he's confident his servers are careful.

"They have the right to refuse anybody that they think shouldn't be served. They can even refuse me or anybody else," he said.

Acevedo said over-serving is a pervasive problem in Houston.

"Too many bartenders and waitresses, as long as you have the cash and you're not causing a problem, they're willing to serve you," Acevedo said.

Officers are now asking suspected drunk drivers what bars or restaurants they're coming from, according to Acevedo. They're sending the bars notices and sharing that information with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Mitchell isn't so sure that will be effective but he said it's worth a shot.

"If you're trying to figure out what places (officers should) go, it seems like the number of complaints you would get would drive it more than what certain drivers are saying," he said.

The TABC already performs yearly inspections and if there's a complaint, they'll conduct a surprise inspection, Mitchell said.

Some bartenders ABC13 spoke to had concerns over the HPD strategy saying drivers may lie about where they were drinking to protect their favorite places.

But Mitchell said bars that aren't doing anything wrong have nothing to worry about.

"As long as you're running a good place, they're not going to bother you," he said.

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