THE WOODLANDS, Texas — A bartender in The Woodlands is facing a criminal charge for allegedly serving a customer who was already intoxicated.
Chelsea Willburn is charged with sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person.
The case is the result of a new "Bars and Cars" task force in Montgomery County that targets all aspects of drunk driving. They’re starting at the same place many of those drivers start – the bars.
"We sent in undercover officers from the Conroe Police Department," said Warren Diepraam of the Montgomery County DA’s office. "We focus on the areas where we see over-serving, where we see a lot of DWIs, where we see a lot of fatalities."
The undercover officers were inside the Baker Street Pub in The Woodlands around closing time Saturday when they began watching Wilburn and a customer.
"This person was obviously intoxicated, shouting racial epithets," said Diepraam. "He had slurred speech, very droopy eyes, fumbling around."
The patrol approached Willburn and asked for three shots for him and his buddies.
She said no to the shots but served the other customer three mixed drinks, according to investigators.
Willburn was arrested.
More than 20 officers are also focused on stopping drunk drivers on the road with new tools like a no-refusal van that bring blood tests and search warrants right to the scene.
In a deadly two-week period in Montgomery County, eight deaths were blamed on drunk drivers, including two head-on wrong-way crashes.
"Something has got to be done. Every time you turn around, there is a head-on collision, you know," said Charity Nelson, who lives nearby. "And it is scary. I live between this freeway and that freeway. It is kinda freaky to get out there."
The DA’s theory is you can’t cause a crash if you don’t get behind the wheel drunk.
People who know Willburn were shocked by her arrest. Tiffany Kirk said Willburn trained her as a bartender.
"I worked with her for two years at Baker Street and she never over-served. She always ID’d and was very adamant about sticking to the books," Kirk said.
But Kirk understands the need for the crackdown.
"You should definitely expect them to come in, especially this time of year at the holidays. You know the college kids are back in town and people are out shopping, but the bottom line is that the holidays are also the worst time of year for accidents because of over-serving," Kirk said.
The "Cars and Bars" task force will continue through the holidays.