Mola Lenghi, Arlington Journalist
Bars and restaurants play a vital role in preventing people from drinking and driving.
The city of Arlington is trending toward a historic high in traffic fatalities. So far in 2011, 35 people have been killed in traffic accidents, including a DWI last week.
In the cases of DWI, the Arlington Police Department is targeting not only drunk drivers, but those who serve them – bars and restaurants.
“If they know that they're serving someone that's had too many, the bartender or the manager can be cited or jailed,” said APD Motorcycle Officer Tim Henz.
To keep people out of jail and out of wrecks, Arlington police will hold a community meeting Thursday with businesses that serve alcohol, to make sure they’re doing so responsibly.
“Anytime there's an accident or anytime anybody is arrested for an alcohol related violation, we investigate as to where they have been drinking,” added Henz.
APD keeps records of which bars and restaurants serve people involved in alcohol-related incidents, monitoring which businesses repeatedly over-serve customers.
“If anybody gets too inebriated we would call them a taxi, give them some food to sober them up, you know, we do whatever we can to take care of the customers,” said Tommy Blodgett, general manager at J. Gilligans in Arlington.
Blodgett said that bartenders, who are trained and certified every two years by the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, are often the last line of defense before an intoxicated customer gets behind the wheel.
“If they can stop them before they get out on the streets, that's far better help than us finally finding them or coming up on a traffic fatality,” said Henz.
From bartenders and wait staff, to hostesses and even other customers, police said everyone can be looking for signs that someone is preparing to drink and drive. All this in an effort to make sure people aren't only drinking responsibly, but serving responsibly.