Alcohol servers’ training could decrease DUIs

Neidenne Arevalo
Staff Writer

Under a state law that took effect this week, waiters and bartenders serving alcoholic drinks must be trained by a so-called Responsible Beverage Service training provider and pass an Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC exam.

About 200,000 workers in California who work in 56,000 businesses have registered to take the training, said ABC spokesman John Carr.

“There has been a big outreach regarding training, in fact the course and exam can be taken in four different languages,” Carr said. 

The law was authored by former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales, D-San Diego. 

She said the law, Assembly Bill 1221, was inspired by several UC San Diego medical students whose classmate was killed by a drunken driver. 

“One of those med students interned in my office and researched the need for a meaningful responsible beverage service program and the positive impact that will have on the health and safety of Californians,” Gonzalez said in an emailed interview this week. 

The main focus of the new law is the safety of those serving or being served alcohol, as well as residents of California that could be impacted by drunk driving, Gonzalez said.

“A lot of servers testified that they didn’t necessarily have the training about how to handle over-served customers to prevent drunk driving,” Gonzalez said. 

“My hope is that it will decrease the number of over-served customers who get behind the wheel, as that will definitely improve the safety of our roads and highways, especially at night,” Gonzalez said. 

Three years after a similar law was passed in Oregon, fatal single nighttime car crashes decreased by about 23%, Gonzalez added. 

Alberto Lopez, server at the Pomona Valley Mining Company, agreed.

“Taking the training was a real eyeopener to how I can proactively avoid over-serving and (maintain) a safe environment for my guests enjoying a few drinks,” Lopez said. 

Sylvia Galeazzi who has worked at the Mining Company for 20 years said she thinks the training can be beneficial for new servers as well as veterans.

“I think the training was a good thing because not everyone realizes the danger they put others in,” Katerina Solorio, server at the Mining Company added. “After two or three drinks I pay more attention to my guests to determine whether I need to slow them down.”

According to the state DMV’s 2020 annual report, the number of DUI cases have decreased through 2008 to 2018. 

California DUI fines range from $390 to $5,000, plus penalty assessments & fees that can raise the total cost to $18,000, depending on your DUI charge. DUI with injury or property damage may also require you to pay injured parties, according to the DMV report.

The RBS training covers how to identify an intoxicated person and how to cut them off safely, as well as how to check for the correct form of identification and how to tell the difference between a real and fake ID. Training goes into depth about regulations, long-term consequences, and behaviors to be aware of. The course consists of eight modules, and once they are all completed, there is a final exam. 

Andy Acosta, bartender at the Pomona Valley Mining Company,  said the training is broad, and it could use more instruction on how to handle aggressive clientele.

“RBS training is a tool California and other states have agreed to deploy … in the fight against preventable drunk driving violence,” Gonzalez said. “I know it will require a little extra work and time to train and make improvements, but it’s worth it.”

Neidenne Arevalo can be reached at neidenne.arevalo@laverne.edu.

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Neidenne Arevalo is a junior communications major with a concentration in public relations and a minor in American law.

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