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A Look At Five Years After Lubbock Votes In Off-Premise Alcohol Sales

KLBK checked in with Lubbock Police as well as the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission about what it's been like since Lubbock voted to allow off-premise alcohol sales.
By Monica Yantosh

LUBBOCK, TX -- KLBK checked in with Lubbock Police as well as the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission about what it's been like since Lubbock voted to allow off-premise alcohol sales.

The strip, which once house all of the liquor stores in Lubbock, now only houses one last liquor store.

"Obviously more people wanted to get into the business of selling alcohol, and then liquor stores were allowed to be throughout town," Captain Mark Menn with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said.

He said the vote back in May 2009 to make Lubbock County wet changed the number of licensed locations drastically. Before that vote, there were 208 licensed on-premise locations. On-premise locations are places like bars and restaurants.

Now, there's 211 off-premise locations in Lubbock. Those off-premise locations mean convenience stores, liquor stores, or grocery stores.
 
"Well the most common complaint we have for off-premise locations, convenience stores and liquor stores, is of course, sale to underage," Captain Menn said.  TABC will not only work with their licensed locations to make sure they know the rules and have someone to turn to if they need help, and TABC also will do operations to make sure their licensed locations comply.

We also checked in with Lubbock Police about the number of DWI arrests as well as public intoxication numbers over the last few years.

"As far as the Police Department's concerned, we haven't really seen a big change," Sergeant Jason Lewis said about those numbers.

Here's a look at the numbers LPD provided KLBK, from January 1st, 2008 to February 7th 2014.
In 2008, there were 786 DWI arrests.
In 2009, there were 561 DWI arrests.
In 2010, there were 591 DWI arrests.
In 2011, there were 449 DWI arrests.
In 2012, there were 813 DWI arrests.
In 2013, there were 846 DWI arrests.
From January 1st, 2014 to February 7th, 2014, there were 59 DWI arrests.

Sergeant Lewis said he thinks one reason there were more in 2012 was mostly because of manpower. He said they now have traffic squads that focus on catching speeders and drunk drivers.

"I think we're seeing the higher numbers probably just as a, cause we were trying to enforce it and get the word out that it won't be tolerated," Sergeant Lewis said.

Here's a look at the number of public intoxication citations from 2008 through 2012.
In 2008, there were 1,637 citations.
In 2009, there were 1,226 citations.
In 2010, there were 1,212 citations.
In 2011, there were 1,181 citations.
In 2012, there were 1,481 citations.

Sergeant Lewis said he doesn't think public intoxication numbers get much impact in terms of off-premise sales. "That's more of a, people leave a restaurant, or a bar, and they're stumbling in the street and they end up being a danger to them self or causing problems," Sergeant Lewis said.

When permits were available to stores in 2009, both United Supermarkets and 7-Eleven added alcohol sales to their already existing stores.

"We really look at beer and wine sales as basket builders, most of the time, people don't come to the grocery store just to buy beer or wine," Eddie Owens with United Supermarkets said.

"It's been great for our business. Like I said, anytime you can bring a new product mix, or new products available for sale that you didn't have before that are already established, of course it's going to be good for business," Ryan Suttles, Regional Manager for 7-Eleven said.

In the end, Captain Menn said he's not sure just how much of a difference adding alcohol sales has made. "Just because an area is dry it doesn't mean the people there are not drinking alcohol. and they're going to obtain it from somewhere.  Some say that if they don't have to drive a great distance to obtain it, maybe that lessens the risk a little bit.  if they've already been consuming," Captain Menn said.

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