Nicole Herrick at the podium (Lorena Gonzalez to her left)
  • Nicole Herrick at the podium (Lorena Gonzalez to her left)
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Dozens of UC San Diego medical students gathered with California assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez on Friday (February 19) to promote Gonzalez's proposed Assembly Bill 2121, which would mandate participation in a program that provides education to servers of alcoholic beverages.

The measure began with UCSD students including Nicole Herrick, who lost two friends in 2015, when a drunk driver traveling the wrong way on SR-163 crashed into her classmates' vehicle.

"If you search for 'UCSD students killed by a drunk driver,' the horrifying reality is that our story isn't the only one that comes up," Herrick said, citing another wrong-way drunk-driver accident that involved student fatalities in December, calling the current situation "a public health crisis."

Under AB 2121, all alcoholic beverage servers and their managers would have to complete a training course once every three years. The course would emphasize the identification of intoxicated patrons and techniques to prevent overserving and drunk driving.

Such courses already exist, but attendance for bar and restaurant workers is optional. According to the California Medical Association, 18 other states and the District of Columbia currently have laws similar to the one Gonzalez is proposing.

"The problem is that because there's no state education requirement, there's no standardization in the classes offered. And because they're not mandatory, few people take them," Gonzalez said. "I've spoken to a number of people who know they've served people who've drank too much. But they don't even know what they're legally allowed to do to stop them from driving."

If passed, the bill would not take effect until July of 2020. Gonzalez expressed confidence, going so far as to predict a unanimous vote of support.

"We're going to see if there's any legislator willing to say 'no' after hearing what these kids have to say once they come up to Sacramento to testify."

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Comments

Ponzi Feb. 20, 2016 @ 10:32 p.m.

Lorena Gonzalez was drinking with and drunk at the capitol when Ben Hueso, her "Latino homie" got a DUI after being pulled over driving on the wrong side of the street.

Get your act together in the capital Lorena. Lorena is the drunkie.

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AlexClarke Feb. 21, 2016 @ 7:36 a.m.

I hate to throw cold water on Lorena's bill but it boil down to this: Training servers to spot patrons who have had too much to drink is one thing but liquor is the number one profit center of any restaurant, bar etc. The owner has to back up their minimum wage server in not serving someone. By doing that everyone loses money, the server and owner. The already tip dependent server is going to be trained to limit his/her ability to make tips and the owner is going to lose business to another restaurant/bar who will serve it's patrons. Only when the restaurant/bar owner is held responsible for the carnage that the drunk patron causes will anything change.

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Ponzi Feb. 21, 2016 @ 8:57 a.m.

Agreed. It is counter-intuitive to the business interest. Bartenders already know they are not supposed to over serve. So are you going to return from "training" and start kicking out customers? That's bad for business. Some people with higher tolerances can drink more and not show signs of intoxication, but are still unsafe to drive. How do you tell? Make your customers blow into a BAC device?

There already are laws to help with this problem. Undercover stings, bars that have too many complaints and drunk in public problems should not have their hands slapped, their licenses should be suspended for a year or revoked for good. That would send a message to bars that they must be more careful. Also, on the punishment side, the DUI penalties are not severe enough. First time offense should be a month in jail, no getting out the next morning. That would make a point and reduce recidivism.

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Visduh Feb. 21, 2016 @ 11:45 a.m.

It might be possible for ABC to impose some sort of rigid rule, such as only a single serving per person per hour. That would take the onus off the server when he/she had to enforce the rule. But such rules are "one size fits all" solutions that seldom really solve things. It would be simple enough for a drinker to have a non-drinking friend order a drink and then consume it when the server was unaware. That's the same sort of thing that allows tens of thousands of underage kids to drink every day. And the same way they buy cigarettes.

We had a tragic situation in Vista a few years back when a young man went into a tavern/restaurant and in the hour prior to closing, had three pints of beer served to him. (That was a known fact, because he kept paying with a credit or debit card, and all the purchases were thus time stamped right to the second.) He then went out, got a buddy of his out of bed to take a drive with him. And within minutes he crashed his speeding car, killing himself and the buddy. Afterward parents wanted the establishment shuttered, and started a campaign to that end. They did succeed for a time, but the place is now open again.

Would this legislation have stopped that from happening? Maybe, but I doubt it. Like so much of the liberal, "nannie state" legislation we see proposed and passed, the law lacks common sense, the things pointed out by Alex and Ponzi. But it sure must feel good to vote for an unenforceable law that has good intentions!

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Wabbitsd Feb. 22, 2016 @ 11:08 a.m.

Stupid overkill here, just a way for Ms. Gonzalez to get her name in the footlights.

Current training already emphasizes that servers need to shut off patrons who are drunk.

The case inspiring this legislation itself was one where numerous people tried to stop this guy.

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