AUSTIN (KXAN) — Halloween in downtown Austin always draws huge crowds. For the first time for the holiday, people who overindulge will have a spot to sober up.
The Travis County Sobering Center is a safe spot for people caught drunk or high in public rather than sending them to jail or the emergency room. It opened in 2018, but it’s taking its services on the road this weekend.
About half-a-dozen people are setting up a tent on Sixth street and San Jacinto Boulevard. They will give people breathalyzer tests and talk to them about being safe while drinking or using drugs.
The Sobering Center can also provide naloxone to reverse the effects of someone under the influence of opioids.
Austin Police said it could also assist people who may need help.
They’ll also transport people to its facility if needed to save the police from having to take someone to jail, which takes a lot of time and keeps officers from continuing their patrols.
Austin-Travis County Sobriety Center Development and Communications Manager Ashlyn Branscum said the center helps people avoid jail or hospital time.
“Being drunk in public is not necessarily something we can arrest our way out of, particularly in a city like Austin with an entertainment district like Sixth Street. And so, bringing someone here kind of avoids the hospital time. Hospital time avoids the police time of taking someone to central booking—that process is really long.”
On average, the Sobering Center’s Sixth Street tents administer around 300 BAC tests per night.
On the Fourth of July this summer, there were 500 BAC tests given.
The Sobering Center will be out starting at 9 p.m., and it’ll stay until the last call around 2 a.m.