AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting in August, officers who come across people who have had too much to drink can bring them to the Austin and Travis County Sobering Center in downtown Austin.
Dubbed “drunk tanks” in many cities, this will be the first of its kind in Travis County. The Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners voted on an interlocal agreement to run the center two years ago.
An official opening date hasn’t been released, but the center’s website is up and running. The center, located at 1213 Sabine St., will have enough beds for 39 men and eight women.
According to the website, the center will provide a “safe environment for publicly intoxicated individuals to sober up and, when appropriate, initiate recovery.”
The idea for the center has been thrown around for years. Austin Council Member Kathie Tovo told KXAN last summer this project will benefit the community tremendously.
“This is going to be a great savings of police time for example, so there’s an immediate benefit back to the city of Austin to have individuals who are publicly intoxicated taken to a sobering center rather than to jail,” Tovo said.
The center will keep those people out of already-busy hospitals and jails. The whole process of booking someone or taking them to the hospital could take hours and keeps officers off the streets.
According to the center, in 2016, there were 2,669 bookings in the Travis County Jail for public intoxication.