Assembly Bill 2121, a new legislative proposal in California, would force bartenders to take a class educating them on detecting the signs of inebriation among patrons who have had too much to drink. Assembly Bill 2121 is known as the Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers Training Act and has been proposed in an effort to help reduce the number of drunk drivers in California. The law would require servers to complete a four-hour class within three months of being hired and would have to take refresher courses every three years. Establishments will also have to certify that their employees have completed the training when they apply for a beverage license.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who drafted the bill, stated:
“AB 2121 is a simple way for all of us to work better together to keep our streets and communities safe.”
The assemblywoman called for passage of the legislation in an effort to provide responsible beverage service training. Many believe that the bill will empower bartenders and servers to help save lives by helping to prevent drunk driving.
The law would require all workers serving alcohol to take the course from a list of state-approved training courses. Server training courses on alcohol have been available throughout California for years, however, they are currently voluntary. Assemblywoman Gonzalez noted that AB 2121 would make Alcoholic Beverage Control administered responsible beverage training mandatory across the state for anyone who serves alcoholic beverages. The course will help educate employees on state alcohol laws and the impact that alcohol has on the body.
While many states have laws that hold establishments responsible for damage that has been caused by accidents, injuries, or deaths as a result of a patron drunk driving after they have left the establishment, Assembly Bill 2121 contains no such language. This is likely due to the fact that California considers the act of drunk driving, along with any damage, injuries, or deaths that occur by that drunk driving the direct result of the person who has made the decision to drive drunk and not the fault of the establishment that served them the alcohol.
However, California differs may hold an establishment liable in cases where someone under the age of 21 was served alcohol. If the establishment serves alcohol to a minor they may be held liable for any damage, injury, or death that results. It is also important to note that although liquor serving establishments may be shielded from civil liability it is possible that they may be held criminally responsible for overserving a patron who is already intoxicated. California Business and Professions Code section 25602(a) states:
“Every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to any habitual or common drunkard or to any obviously intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Dram Shop Laws
While it still remains to be seen if AB 2121 will pass, if it does it may not be long until California resorts to what are known as “Dram Shop Laws” in an effort to reduce drunk driving. Dram Shop Laws hold establishments liable for damage caused by accidents, injuries, or deaths in cases where a patron was driving drunk after they’ve left the establishment.