AUSTIN (KXAN) — The weekend celebrations have already started for James Gerlock, who is from Chicago, but celebrating his birthday in Austin.

“Sixth Street is the cathedral of Austin. You have to come when you visit and say your blessings every time,” Gerlock said.

With about 40% of Texans fully vaccinated, bars reopening and the University of Texas at Austin’s graduation, they expect a busy weekend for Sixth Street.

“I think it will be busier than it’s been before, and I think now is a turning point where people feel more comfortable coming out,” Alexis Tetrault said.

The Austin-Travis County Sobering Center said it will be trying out a Sixth Street outreach program to take people who have had too much to drink to the center.

Beginning Saturday, the center will have a tent available for intoxicated people to get a lift to the sobering center — instead of risking a trip to jail or the emergency room — and also be offered a path to recovery from substance abuse.

“The typical stay is about six to eight hours, but it just depends on when that individual gets to .08 or if the medic on shift deems them safe to leave,” said Victoria Garcia, Community Outreach and Education coordinator at the sobering center.

The tent will also offer free blood alcohol concentration testing, water and a chance to win prizes for answering questions about alcohol misconceptions.

“Our presence in heavily-concentrated areas for public intoxication has been a frequently requested service, and we are pleased to be advancing our outreach to further meet this need in our community,” said Laura Sovine, the sobering center’s executive director. “We have an opportunity to prevent DWIs and provide harm reduction information to those who may need it.”

Records from Travis County Central Booking show since the sobering center’s inception in 2018, jail bookings went down by about 44%.

Courtesy: The Sobering Center
Courtesy: The Sobering Center

The center was started in 2018 and said it has helped more than 4,700 people get connected to substance recovery services.