According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a person dies every 52 minutes in an alcohol-related traffic collision. That translates to over 10,000 deaths per year. However, a new California law aims to provide bartenders with training that would help them determine when to stop serving a potentially intoxicated patron.
WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBLE INTERVENTIONS FOR BEVERAGE SERVERS TRAINING ACT?
The Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers Training Act, or the RIBS Act, would go into effect in 2020 if it is approved by the California legislature. It would require bartenders to complete a four-hour training course within three months of starting their employment. They would also have to take ongoing education courses every three years. Employers would be required to certify that their employees have taken the course.
ARE BARTENDERS RESPONSIBLE FOR DRUNK PATRONS?
Under the proposed law, bars, liquor stores or other locations that sold alcohol would not be held responsible for the action of a drunk patron. For instance, if a patron got a DUI after being served at a bar, the bartender would not be responsible for that driver’s actions. It would also not be a valid defense if used by a criminal defense lawyer. The only way that a bartender or anyone else who sold liquor would be held responsible for violating the law is if the buyer was under the age of 21.
WHY AREN’T BARTENDERS BEING HELD RESPONSIBLE UNDER THE NEW LAW?
According to the RIBS Act, the fact that someone consumed an alcoholic beverage is the proximate reason for any injuries or deaths caused by that individual. What this means is that the person consuming alcohol is responsible for drinking in moderation or taking other precautions to prevent an accident from happening. The fact that an individual was given alcohol is not considered to be a crime.
There is one exception related to those who are obviously intoxicated prior to being served or if someone who is a known to be habitually drunk is served. In some cases, either of those acts could be considered a misdemeanor. However, a conviction on such a charge is unlikely as it can be difficult to discern who may simply be having a good time as opposed to someone who is drunk. There are times when even a Breathalyzer test won’t accurately show a person’s blood alcohol content.
WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL HOST LAWS?
For the most part, social host laws only exist to prevent an individual to provide alcohol for those under the age of 21. Therefore, if you serve alcohol to someone over the age of 21 and that person then goes and gets into an accident, the person who got into the accident will be charged with the DUI or any applicable charges. However, this doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be found liable in a personal injury case if you took actions that may have contributed to the injury or death of another person.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence and need a criminal defense attorney, we are here to help. While you may have made a poor decision to drink and drive, you deserve an attorney who will fight for you. As the leading DUI defense firm in Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange County, you can rest assured that your lawyer understands how to preserve your rights throughout the legal process.