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Training Bartenders, Servers On How Much Is Too Much

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), surrounded by UC San Diego medic...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), surrounded by UC San Diego medical students, announces Assembly Bill 2121 to require responsible beverage service training for all restaurant and bar workers, Feb. 19, 2016.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) Friday called for passage of legislation to require "responsible-beverage-service training" for restaurant and bar workers who serve alcoholic drinks.

Gonzalez discussed Assembly Bill 2121 — which she authored — at a news conference at UC San Diego, nine months after two UCSD medical students died and three others were seriously injured in a crash allegedly caused by a drunken driver.

"This is a tragedy that hit close to home for us in San Diego, and I'm honored to work with this strong community to do what we can to prevent this from happening again," Gonzalez said. "AB 2121 is a simple way for all of us to work better together to keep our streets and communities safe."

The May 16 crash killed Madison Cornwell, 23, and one of her passengers, 24-year-old Anne Li Baldock. Prosecutors allege that a vehicle driven by an intoxicated Marine collided with their vehicle as he drove the wrong way on state Route 163.

UCSD medical student Nicole Herrick worked with Gonzalez to create the bill. She was interning in Gonzalez's office at the time of the crash.

"Preventing drunk driving is everyone's responsibility, whether you're behind the bar or sitting next to the person at the bar."

According to Gonzalez, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has a free and voluntary program that focuses on prevention and education for retail licensees, their employees and applicants. AB 2121 would make ABC-administered responsible beverage training mandatory statewide for anyone serving alcoholic beverages.

She said some local governments have made the training mandatory, as have 18 other states and the District of Columbia.

Another classmate, Daniel Spinosa, said: "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.

"This bill will empower bartenders and servers to save lives," Spinosa said. "We wish it had been law years ago."

The California Restaurant Association, which represents restaurateurs, sent this statement on the bill:

The California Restaurant Association is a vocal advocate for responsible and safe alcohol service. We often work with the ABC, CHP, Office of Traffic Safety, as well as with RADD and the National Restaurant Association's safe alcohol service training and education programs.

We have been in discussions with Assemblywoman Gonzalez's office. We are carefully reviewing the legislation and look forward to working with Assemblywoman Gonzalez toward our shared goal of responsible alcohol consumption.

The Marine, Jason Riley King, faces trial next month. He's charged with second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.


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