The University’s student population maintains a reputation for partying and drinking heavily, but Austin police say in reality, college-aged persons are less likely to drive drunk.
According to Lt. Derek Galloway of the Austin Police Department, of the 12,831 individuals cited for a DWI in the past two years, only 925 were younger than 21 — a ratio of just more than 7 percent.
“We don’t see a large number of college students arrested for DWIs,” Galloway said. “It could be that the majority of them don’t have cars, and most of them live close to where they’re going to be partying so they don’t travel very far. Also, a lot of them use public transportation.”
Galloway said the legal drinking age factors into the low statistics, noting that most undergraduates can’t buy alcohol legally. He also said college kids tend to “get it” more than adults.
“College kids know a DWI could ruin the rest of their lives,” Galloway said. “It’s very devastating for a young person to get a DWI. It’ll just ruin so many opportunities. I think people before didn’t understand the full extent of a DWI, but now the effort that is being put forth is having some impact and younger people are understanding that better.”
Sarah Moore, a bartender at Cain and Abel’s, said the bar monitors its patrons closely. Moore looks for visible signs of intoxication like closed eyes, slurred speech and impaired motor skills before she cuts someone off.
“We’ll throw them out of the bar if they get too rowdy,” Moore said. “They can stick around if they’re behaving, but it’s policy that we kick them out as soon as they get out of hand.”
Similarly, Moore said patrons who have had one too many drinks can leave their cars in the bar’s parking lot until noon the following day. Moore said this policy was created in an effort to get college kids to walk home or take taxis.
Moore said one of the stricter rules at Cain and Abel’s pertains to the “Texas Tea,” a formidable concoction popular among students. Customers are only allowed two per visit because drinking that amount is equal to ingesting about 10 liquor shots, she said.
Moore said college students make up the majority of Cain and Abel’s clientele. They are typically more raucous than the bar’s older visitors, and she said she is surprised that college students are at the bottom of APD’s stats.
Anna Silverstein, a radio-television-film graduate student, said APD’s statistics do not align with her perception of student drinking at UT.
“Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there’s a lot of drinking at UT,” Silverstein said. “I think there’s a lot of drunk driving that goes on.”
Silverstein said she often works late into the night and is wary of sharing the road with intoxicated drivers.
“I’m always nervous to drive because I know that there’s probably people driving around drunk,” Silverstein said.
Biochemistry freshman Mashal Kara said she is also surprised by the statistics.
“I’ve seen college students scream at us from their cars,” Kara said. “I was walking back from my study area to my dorm and as I crossed the street, there was a guy screaming at the top of his lungs saying abusive words. His logic was obviously impaired … It’s weird that they aren’t getting pulled over.”