I came across a recent article about server training and enforcement reduces San Diego DUI drunk driving. I whole-heartedly agree it can.
There is no doubt the bartenders and servers should be trained. There is no doubt they are instructed not to sell alcohol to people who are gonzo, blitzed, drunk.
The question is would they cut people off if they had a few and may be buzzed, tipsy, etc? The next question is would the business want to cut them off in this instance? So many bars rely on the late evening drinks for their business. If a bartender was shutting people down who seemed impaired to their trained eye and those customers left would that bartender be rewarded or fired?
State law prohibits sale of alcohol to “obvious intoxication”. Is that the standard? This could be a full dialogue in of itself. I hope everyone does its part in ensuring the public safety of the community. This includes persons ensuring limiting San Diego DUIs, Encinitas DUIs, Carlsbad DUIs, and everywhere else in the county.
I will say those owners whose livlivehood relies on alcohol sales they push to the edge with an “obvious intoxication” standard. Training is a good tool. What else can be done to make it advantageous for a business owner? Without new ideas and protocols business will push sales. No one tactic solves the problem of San Diego DUI drunk driving. It is a collaborative approach from all angles. Even then, people will make unwise decisions and decide to drink and drive, whether they are close to or over the limit.
Are bars to blame for drunk driving?
In short: no. Drinkers are responsible for their own actions. But research collected by the County of San Diego shows roughly one-third to one-half of all drunk drivers are coming from bars and restaurants. These licensed establishments have the potential to play a key role in preventing irresponsible drinking.
Drunk driving is a huge threat to local residents. In 2012, 86 people were killed and over 2,300 injured in alcohol-involved collisions in San Diego County, according to the California Highway Patrol.
State laws prohibit the sale or service of alcohol to minors or obviously intoxicated customers, and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) offers a free training program for licensees and their employees to help ensure they understand and comply with State laws.
More and more, cities are instituting responsible beverage server training ordinances to drive that message home.
On November 14, the public is invited to the Alcohol Policy Panel of San Diego County breakfast at 9 a.m. in the Vista Civic Center’s Community Room to hear progressive research on server training, law enforcement support and the necessary steps to reduce public intoxication and drunk driving.
At the municipal level, many cities have passed Responsible Beverage Sales and Service (RBSS) ordinances requiring employees of alcohol-licensed businesses to complete RBSS training, such as the ABC-certified Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) training. The training covers checking various forms of identification, liability laws and strategies to prevent over-service of alcohol, among other topics.
All this benefits alcohol retailers by limiting liability risks and higher insurance costs associated with illegal alcohol sales — to minors or intoxicated patrons who often cause DUIs, injuries, fights, property damage and noise complaints.
Currently, nine of San Diego County’s 18 municipalities require RBSS training.
As of January 2014, the five cities in North San Diego County with RBSS ordinances included Encinitas, Poway, San Marcos, Solana Beach and Vista. The training is not required in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Escondido and Oceanside.
In those five North San Diego County cities with RBSS ordinances, a smaller percentage of on-sale businesses were named as the ‘Place of Last Drink’ by DUI offenders, according to a 2010 analysis done by the Center for Community Research.
Between January 2012 and December 2013, more than 2,600 participants attended ABC LEAD trainings in North San Diego County – with nearly 73 percent from alcohol retail businesses. Many of the participants commented that the training gave them the tools to be confident in cutting off patrons.
But one study shows it’s not just a retailer education, but also the threat of a law enforcement citation that helps reduce over-service and prevent impaired driving. Clearly, self-policing is not enough. More enforcement is needed to bring businesses into compliance.
At the November 14 breakfast of the Alcohol Policy Panel of San Diego County, James Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation will share the latest research that shows our efforts must go beyond the responsible beverage service training.
When comparing 10 RBSS-trained bars with 10 control bars, the refusal of service rates jumped from 3.6 percent to 27.5 percent in the first post-training period, but fell to 21.3 percent in the second post-training check, the institute’s research shows.
Why the initial post-training spike? The researchers concluded it might have less to do with the recent RBSS training and more to do with to with law enforcement citing a bartender for over-service.
“In order for (training) programs to be effective and sustainable, quarterly or bi-annual undercover inspections by law enforcement with timely feedback to the bar owners is necessary to ensure compliance and create a deterrent effect,” according to Fell.
Ultimately, no one tactic solves the problem of drunk driving; it takes a collaborative approach between retailers, the ABC, law enforcement and cities.
Hopefully, the holdout North County cities will consider taking proactive measures in the future to send a clear, unified message that our region is dedicated to making restaurants and bars key partners in reducing public intoxication and making our roadways safer.
The full article can be found here.
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23152. (a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. (b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving. (c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code. (d) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving. (e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. (f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle. (g) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2014.