San Diego DUI Law Center

San Diego DUI lawyers report an effort under way to create a city ordinance requiring businesses in San Marcos that sell alcohol to have employees trained and certified in responsible beverage service.

The push is coming from the North Inland Community Prevention Program (NICPP), which is funded by the county. It made its case for such an ordinance before the city’s Student and Neighborhood Relations Commission in July.

Clark Kiser, NICPP director, said statistics show that some San Marcos establishments, particularly in Old California Restaurant Row, have become hot spots for excessive drinking and North San Diego county DUI arrests.

That is particularly troublesome to Kiser because the city is home to Cal State San Marcos and Palomar College.

“We’re trying to encourage the city to look at that,” Kiser said. “We want them to look at some places that are having difficulties when transitioning from restaurant to nightclubs. The better trained they are, the more likely they won’t serve to excess.”

A 2007 survey taken in DUI programs run by the county’s Health and Human Service Agency identified several bars and restaurants in San Marcos as being the last place program participants had had drinks before being arrested for San Diego California Drunk Driving / San Diego DUI.

Between January and July of this year, 144 drivers were cited for a California DUI in San Marcos, and there were 46 alcohol-related collisions in the city, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Underage drinking would also be targeted by the ordinance.

According to a California Healthy Kids Survey done by the state Department of Education, 30 percent of ninth-graders and 46 percent of 11th-graders in San Marcos reported using alcohol in the previous month.

San Marcos has 54 retail outlets and 86 bars and restaurants licensed to sell alcohol.

Sting operations run by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) department, which licenses businesses, showed that 21 percent of San Marcos bars and restaurants sold to underage drinkers, and 12 percent of adults bought alcohol for underage drinkers when asked.

Celeste Young, a NICPP prevention specialist who made the presentation before the commission, said responsible beverage sales and service training would lessen those problems by teaching servers how to detect false IDs and how to refuse service to aggressive or intoxicated drinkers.

Young argued that alcoholic beverage servers shouldn’t be treated any differently than hairdressers, manicurists and food handlers, who must be certified for health and safety reasons.

Similar ordinances requiring certification training for alcohol servers were passed in Poway in 2002 and in Solana Beach in July.

In Poway, the number of local businesses mentioned in last-drink-before-arrest surveys fell from 61 to five in just one year following passage of the ordinance.

During the July meeting, the Student and Neighborhood Relations Commission directed staff to see whether a San Marcos ordinance was feasible. Lydia Romero, deputy city manager, said that the city attorney and code compliance department would have to weigh in and that input would be needed from stakeholders and the public before a decision could be reached.

The staff report is tentatively scheduled for the commission’s Oct. 13 meeting.
ABC offers free responsible beverage sales and service certification training. Classes last three to four hours, said ABC spokesman John Carr. Last year, the department trained almost 18,000 alcohol servers in the state.

The owners and managers of three Restaurant Row businesses — San Marcos Brewery & Grill, Acapulco Mexican Restaurant y Cantina and 55 Yardline Sports Bar and Grill — said they already require ABC training and certification.

San Diego DUI lawyers are told the ordinance would put no additional burden on his business because he’s been sending his servers for training since the bar opened three years ago.

San Diego DUI attorneys believe those already voluntarily training their workers should be pushing for the ordinance to protect their reputations.

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