In California, there are many laws in place to help prevent and punish drunk driving. Despite the efforts of lawmakers and police officers, drunk drivers get on the roads and cause accidents, property damage, injuries and deaths. What else can officials do to prevent people from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
A potential new method has been brought forward by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who recently introduced a bill that would get bartenders involved in intervening with drunk driving.
How Bartenders Will Be Involved
Assembly Bill 2121, titled the “Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers Training Act of 2016,” has been introduced by Assemblywoman Gonzalez to serve as another way to combat the amount of drunk drivers in California.
If made into law, it would require bartenders and servers of establishments that serve alcohol to complete a Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers training course. If a person has had too much to drink, the server would be able to intervene.
Employees would also be required to complete the course within three months of being hired and then take the course again every three years after as a means of re-education. Training courses would include information on state laws and regulations, and how alcohol affects the body.1
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be required to publish a list of approved training courses and requirements on its website on or before Jan. 1, 2019. Applicants would receive a certificate or card indicating they have completed the course. Additionally, the training course would not have to cost the participant more than $15.
Could Bartenders Face Criminal Charges?
The proposed law introduces a way to require bartenders and servers to be educated on alcohol and its consequences, but it doesn’t discuss what could happen to bartenders who refuse to take the course or do not comply with the law. So could a bartender face criminal charges for not taking the course? What happens if a bartender does not intervene when a patron is going to drive while under the influence of alcohol?
It appears that this proposed law would not punish bartenders who fail to comply by charging them criminally. Does that mean they can’t be held liable if a patron causes damage or injury while driving drunk?
California Civil Code Section 1714 lays out that injury, damage or death caused by a drunk driver is not the fault of the establishment serving alcohol, but of the person who made the decision to drive drunk. However, if a person served is under 21 or is overserved after already being drunk, the establishment could be held criminally responsible.
The Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers Training Act of 2016 seems like just another attempt to crack down on the amount of drunk drivers on the road.
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1. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2121 href=”#ref1″>↩