San Diego DUI prevention is a community issue. People will always make unwise decisions. The decision to drink too much and then brave the ride home is all too frequent. Any and every technique that can be in place to cast a net when people inevitably make the wrong choice.
It is common knowledge that many establishments in San Diego give a healthy “pour” in their drinks. I some esteablishments that give almost double the expected alcohol content. Saavy San Diego folk usually can temper their drink intake according to the strength of the alcohol.
However, there is a lot of people who dont go out that much. They are not counting what they drink. I recently had a client who is 5’3 115lbs. She went out and had three drinks. However, the beer was a IPA pint and the two mixed drinks were very heavy in alcohol content. She thought she was ok….she was well over .08%. Any community program helping avoid any harm when people do make unwise choices helps everybody.
More than 13,000 people in our county were arrested for drunken driving in 2012. That’s 1,115 arrests each month, or 37 per day. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) says that’s more than for any other kind of offense. More arrests than for all property offenses combined (10,084) – including felony burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, misdemeanor petty theft and burglary.
These numbers represent real consequences. Alcohol-involved crashes claimed 85 lives and injured 1,592 in San Diego County in 2011, according to the CHP.
Even if you avoid becoming a San Diego drunk-driving victim, you still pay dearly in higher taxes and insurance costs. You may lose access to important law enforcement and highway safety services because drunken driving devours such a sizable portion of police time and public tax dollars.
This problem demands solutions; fortunately, there are tested approaches that save lives and dollars. For starters, we must redefine the problem as one not solely caused by drunk drivers, but also one with other preventable causes. Focusing on where drivers become intoxicated is as important as focusing on the drunk drivers themselves.
That doesn’t mean relieving San Diego drunk drivers of personal responsibility, but it does require that we thoroughly examine – and change – the irresponsible business practices of a few establishments that contribute to drunken driving, violence, neighborhood disruption and other problems.
The vast majority of restaurants, bars and clubs operate in a responsible manner and present few problems. However, a small number consistently churn out drunken customers. Service of alcoholic drinks to obviously intoxicated individuals is a crime with serious consequences.
This threat to our community needs to stop.
State law makes it illegal to serve alcohol to someone who is drunk, so it stands to reason that both the individual consuming the alcohol and the establishment that served it share responsibility for the results.
Unlike in some other states, California law places the burden of any harm or injury resulting from intoxication solely with the individual consumer, effectively relieving servers and establishments from any financial accountability. Is this really fair?
We must not be complacent in allowing outlaw serving practices. It may be impossible to police all establishments, but local authorities can intervene where problematic alcohol serving practices occur.
Reducing intoxication levels makes a real difference on the road. According to research published in Injury Prevention journal, the likelihood of vehicle crashes resulting in serious injury rises significantly with even 0.01 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) – less than one drink. Government data reveal that 70 percent of fatal crashes involve highly intoxicated drivers – those with BAC levels of 0.15 percent or higher (four drinks for an average woman, seven for an average man). Accordingly, our first step must be to address the practices of establishments that are turning out the most high-risk patrons.
Fortunately, we know where drunken drivers are coming from. Nearly half of them drink in local bars, clubs and restaurants, according to information voluntarily given by participants in DUI programs. According to this survey, a small number of bars, clubs and restaurants are responsible for churning out most of the drunken drivers. We need to work with these businesses through Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training and compliance checks to stop the problem, save lives and increase public safety.
Our goal should be to bring these alcohol establishments into compliance with the law, not necessarily shut them down. Experience tells us that a little encouragement works to bring nearly all problem businesses into compliance with legal, ethical and community standards.
Fortunately, deaths from alcohol-involved crashes are fewer than past decades thanks to measures like the 0.08 percent BAC limit for driving after drinking and the 21-year-old legal drinking age.
To advance public safety and help save lives, we must strengthen or expand other related policies and practices locally. Such measures include vigorous enforcement and RBS training for businesses with problem practices, and mandatory RBS training for all alcohol service workers and managers throughout the county.
Adopting measures that improve alcohol service won’t relieve individuals of their responsibility for driving drunk. But it could help those drinkers stay a bit more sober and safe – for all of us. Let’s not tolerate over-serve practices that put us all at risk. It’s time to recognize that there’s a lot more we can do to mitigate the heavy burden that drunken driving poses. If we’re smart about it, we can prevent thousands of injuries and deaths.
Responsible Beverage Service training encourages alcohol establishments to follow responsible practices, such as:
- Servers must be willing and able to refuse service to already intoxicated patrons
- Ban drink specials which encourage high-volume consumption
- Security personnel at bars and clubs who pay attention to and deal with heavily consuming patrons
- More availability of food at bars and clubs
- Bartenders using only measured shots of alcohol so drinkers can accurately know how much they drank (no “heavy pours”)
The full article can be found here.
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