AUSTIN, Texas -- Get fall-down drunk in a Texas bar, and it may cost more than a few bruises. Try $500 or a few hours in jail.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is sending undercover officers into bars to look for the exceedingly drunk, issuing citations or making arrests for public intoxication even if the patrons haven't left the building.
''Drinking is fine," said Carolyn Beck, agency spokeswoman. ''But when people drink too much, they become dangerous to themselves and other people."
The program is aimed at reducing drunken driving. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Texas had 1,264 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2004, the most in the nation.
The crackdown is aimed not only at those who are drunk, but at the bars and bartenders who continue to serve them.
So far, it has resulted in about 2,200 arrests or citations around the state.
B. J. Hassell, manager of victims services with MADD Texas State, which serves central Texas, said her organization supports the crackdown.
''Can you imagine if TABC had not stopped those people from leaving the bar, how many more drunk drivers we might have had on the road?" Hassell said.
The most recent sting was March 10, when agents infiltrated more than 30 bars in the Dallas suburb of Irving, arresting or citing dozens of people.