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CMA-sponsored beverage training bill receives committee approval



April 22, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health 

A bill sponsored by the California Medical Association (CMA) that would 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 on Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 2121 would make Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) 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. Currently, the ABC has a free and voluntary program.

The bill is the result of a tragic drunk-driving accident that occurred last year. In May 2015, two UC San Diego medical students were killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way, causing a collision that killed the two students and injured three others.

In the wake of the accident, classmates of the victims worked with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and CMA to develop legislation that would better equip servers and bartenders to identify signs of overconsumption and intervene before tragedy strikes.

“Responsible beverage service training can't bring back our brilliant, compassionate classmates, but it can prevent other communities from having to mourn the senseless loss of loved ones to drunk drivers,” said Daniel Spinosa, one of the victims’ classmates at the UCSD School of Medicine. “This bill will empower bartenders and servers to save lives. We wish it had been law years ago.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people in 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 Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs 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, M.D., (D-Sacramento) 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.

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