The Austin Police Department is clarifying a list it released early this week regarding bars and drunk driving.
The list of Top DWI Bars for 2012 is based on information police officers collect when they stop a drunk driver. The suspect is asked where he or she had their last drink and the responses that are provided are entered into a data bank.
The information is intended to be used to plan enforcement strategy and education programs. But each year, about this time, APD also releases a list of the bars that are named. The Department does not create an annual list as part of an official campaign, but one is made public in response to Open Records request, according to the head of ADP's DWI Enforcement Unit Lt. Derek Galloway.
"We have to release that information, that's, it's an open records request from the media, an open records request for the top 20 bars, so now we just release them anytime the media ask for them, we go, here's our running list, that list changes as time goes on but that's basically why we release it. It's not like we release it saying hey these people are really bad," said Galloway.
Bar owners, like Bob Woody, say the list is not fair.
"If they went and drank beer all the way around town, going to the Trail of Lights for example and then went over to one of our clubs and drank one beer and walked out of there and the officer said where did you come from and they said that club then the answer would be that club just got on the list but the club obviously didn't cause it to occur or make it happen," said Woody.
Without clarification, the list can put a business into a negative light. It could be something like revealing the names of people who are never charged with a crime, but are brought to police HQ and questioned regarding possible criminal activity.
"It's not a good list to be on, it's also just not a good list," said Woody.
Thursday, in response to questions by FOX 7, it was revealed the APD list is not based on actual citations issued by TABC.
"That's data, we stop a drunk individual and they tell us that's the last place they were drinking, we'll how good is that information, we use it but we don't really, it's not something that we really weigh a lot, put a lot of weight on," said Lt Galloway.
The current way of collecting responses from those accused of DWI may no longer be made public because of the questioned raised by FOX 7. The information will continued to be used by APD, but only to plan enforcement initiatives and education programs. Future reports if released may be based only on yearly citations which are issued by TABC.