Nicole Herrick at the podium (Lorena Gonzalez to her left)
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."