Law enforcement, nonprofit team up to educate bars and restaurants on alcohol serving

ESCONDIDO — An Escondido police officer and a nonprofit are visiting local bars and restaurants to hand-deliver invitations for an alcohol server training and encourage the businesses to send their workers to the free class.

The police department, North Inland Community Prevention Program and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control will host the voluntary training from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 29 in the Mitchell Room at Escondido City Hall, 201 N. Broadway in Escondido.

Led by a former ABC investigator, the class will teach participants how to spot fake IDs, determine when customers are intoxicated and safely stop serving them, among other things.

The training augments other police department efforts to reduce drunk driving.

“It’s not just about DUI checkpoints,” said Police Chief Craig Carter. “We need to be proactive and get out there and try to educate people by getting them to these trainings. The obvious goal is education about over serving (of alcohol) and looking for signs of intoxication.”

Most San Diego County cities require anyone who sells or serves alcohol in a store, restaurant or bar to successfully complete server training every two years. The ABC offers the class free of charge in cities throughout the region to ensure it is available for those who need it.

While Escondido does not require the training, the police department periodically hosts voluntary classes, but seats at those trainings typically are primarily filled by people who need the training due to their jobs in nearby cities.

In an effort to boost local bars’ and restaurants’ participation, the ABC agreed not to accept reservations for the July 29 class from non-Escondido businesses’ employees until two weeks before the training. The personal invitations are designed to raise the local attendance rate, as well.

Funded by the county, the North Inland Community Prevention Program routinely surveys participants in the ABC’s alcohol server class about their perceptions of the training. Survey results from participants at the ABC alcohol server class in San Marcos showed the majority of participants attend class only because they are required to or believed the training would increase their chances of being hired by one of the city’s stores, bars or restaurants.

Most survey respondents also said that by the end of the class, they felt it had been well worth their time, survey results show.

An early-June collision in Escondido resulting in the death of a pregnant victim’s unborn child is a recent tragic example of how the city is affected by the problem of drunk driving.

The man whose car hit the victim’s is facing multiple felony charges, including two counts of DUI causing injury.

While it’s unclear whether he had been at a bar or restaurant beforehand, results from a survey routinely conducted by law enforcement officers when they make drunk driving arrests show that many of the arrestees say they obtained their last alcoholic drink at a bar or restaurant.

Training bar and restaurant workers to identify underage or intoxicated drinkers and safely stop serving them can only help with the effort, Carter said. “I highly recommend it (the ABC server class); there’s no downside to this.”

Escondido’s alcohol-licensed businesses can call North Inland Community Prevention Program at (858) 391-9303 to reserve seats for their employees at the July 29                                  Escondido training.

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