When you hear about a drunk driving accident, your initial response is likely to blame the driver who got behind the wheel intoxicated. While you aren’t wrong, there could be another party at fault for the collision as well – the bartender who served alcoholic beverages to the intoxicated driver. California’s dram shop laws exist to hold entities and individuals liable for providing alcohol in these scenarios, but the scope of the law is limited compared to many other states. Now, a new bill may require bartenders in California to go through DUI prevention training before serving drinks.
The Story Behind The Bill
The bill came about after the tragic deaths of two University of California San Diego medical students, Anne Li Baldock (24) and Madison Elizabeth Cornwell (23), in 2015 when a drunk driver struck their vehicle while going the wrong way on State Route 163. The crash also injured three other students. During the suspected drunk driver’s trial, several parties testified that they had warned the driver, a U.S. marine, not to drive after he had been drinking. The case brought to light failures within the state’s dram shop laws, as the establishment where the driver had been drinking clearly let him drink too much. After this accident, the victims’ classmates and friends worked hard to push for a new law that would help alcohol servers prevent drunk driving.
What Would The New Bill Do?
The bill proposes legislation that would make DUI prevention training mandatory for bartenders. During training, bartenders would learn how to identify a potential drunk driving situation and what to do to prevent it from happening. Bartenders would learn ways to intervene before drunk drivers get behind the wheel. Alcohol responsibility training would become mandatory for all bartenders and servers of alcohol in the state.
Oregon has a similar program in place that saw positive results, decreasing the rates of drunk driving throughout the state. Now, California lawmakers hope a similar improvement will happen with the passing of a new bill. So far, the bill has passed the Assembly and Senate by wide margins. It is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for the final seal of approval. Those pushing for the law believe it will put bartenders in a better position to protect the public from intoxicated drivers. This would be a good thing for the establishment, its customers, and the general public.
How Could Bartender DUI Training Help?
Bartenders play a significant role in many drunk driving accidents. Oftentimes, an investigation into a suspected DUI crash shows the at-fault driver had been visibly intoxicated at the establishment or residence where he or she was last drinking before hitting the road. It is every alcohol server’s duty to refuse service to people who are clearly intoxicated and who pose a foreseeable risk of harm to others. This includes drunken parties who plan on driving home.
A bill that requires bartenders to go through DUI prevention training could arm them with the tools to prevent drunk driving, such as how to avoid over-serving patrons or to call an Uber or taxi to get the patron home safely. Prevention methods may include calling the police to detain the party if necessary. A mandatory training program could potentially give bartenders the information and resources they need to stop a driver before he or she ever gets into a vehicle. The state will know soon if the bill passes into law.