Austin/ Food & Drinks
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Published on May 14, 2024
Austin Launches "Sip Safely" Initiative, Equipping Bars with Test Strips to Detect Drink SpikingSource: Unsplash / Stanislav Ivanitskiy

In a move to bolster nightlife safety, Austin bars are now arming patrons with a tool to test for tainted drinks. The city has kick-started the "Sip Safely" initiative, deploying test strips across fifty local establishments in the entertainment districts to swiftly detect any signs of drink spiking.

The pilot program, backed by $100,000 in government funds, aims to actively combat the issue faced by city-goers. Referring to the prevalence of such incidents, Brian Block, manager for the city's Nightlife and Entertainment Services, told KXAN, "Drink spiking often precedes other types of crime."

According to Eater Austin, interested patrons can request test strips at participating bars like Cheer Up Charlies, Shangri La, and Jackalope to check their drinks on the spot. Additionally, bar staff will receive special training to not only recognize but also intervene in instances of drink spiking, as a part of the wider Safer Sixth Street Initiative.

Further underlining the program's importance, Council Member Zohaib Qadri, who introduced the concept, said, "Heard from many constituents who both frequented Sixth Street and Rainey Street, whether they themselves had gotten a drink spiked or a loved one, so it was big enough problem." He added in conversation with KXAN, "And if it's one person, that's one person too many, and that's why we took notice and worked on this item."

As of the launch, the success metrics for this safety campaign have not been detailed, but city leaders hope the visibility of "Sip Safely" can critically serve as a deterrent. Block emphasized, "The more we can get exposure for this campaign, the more bars and venues that are participating, the more we can get the message out."