April 20, 2016, (San Diego) Legislation by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to require all restaurant and bar employees who sell or serve alcoholic beverages to undergo Responsible Beverage Service training was approved on a bipartisan 18-0 vote by the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization today.
Assembly Bill 2121 would make Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control-administered responsible beverage training mandatory statewide for anyone serving alcoholic beverages. Educating beverage servers in bars and restaurants is a key part to reducing drunk driving fatalities, but while the ABC has a free and voluntary program, existing training programs in California are not mandatory at the state level.
“Requiring responsible beverage training for all alcoholic beverage servers will help stop preventable deaths by intervening before dangerous situations result in unnecessary tragedy,” Gonzalez said.
In May of 2015, two UC San Diego medical students were killed by a wrong-way drunk driver in the Mission Valley area of San Diego. The drunk driver was leaving a local restaurant when he went the wrong way on State Route 163 and caused the collision that killed two and injured three other students. In the wake of the accident, classmates of the victims have worked with Assemblywoman Gonzalez and her office to develop legislation that would better equip servers to identify signs of overconsumption and intervene before tragedy strikes.
“We’ve seen significant reductions after similar legislation in other states, and now we have an opportunity to prevent tragedies like my classmates and I have felt,” said Daniel Spinosa, one of the UCSD School of Medicine classmates of the late Mission Valley victims and a witness at today’s committee hearing.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people throughout the United States die on our roadways due to drunk driving every year, the equivalent of one fatality every 53 minutes. Even though training is not currently mandatory at the state level, many local governments have made LEAD training mandatory. Additionally, 18 other states and the District of Columbia have already established a mandatory responsible beverage training course.
AB 2121 is coauthored by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), sponsored by the California Medical Association, and supported by health and public safety organizations including the California Police Chiefs Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, American Academy of Pediatrics, California, County Health Executives Association of California, and San Diego Police Officers Association.