A Los Angeles City Council committee voted Tuesday in favor of adopting stricter enforcement of the sale of alcoholic beverages at gas stations in an effort to reduce drunk driving and the availability of alcohol to minors.
"Vendors such as gas stations that sell alcohol may be overlooked in city regulations governing alcohol sales," said Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who wrote the motion. "This measure will make sure we are doing more to prevent drinking and driving."
In California, the manufacture, distribution, storage and sale of alcohol is regulated by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, but the city is responsible for permits to operate gas stations and other businesses.
The motion approved by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee will ensure that every business that has a license from ABC is actually abiding by the state law before being issued a permit from the city, Blumenfield's office said.
The motion would also give the Department of Building and Safety and the Los Angeles Police Department added enforcement tools to inspect and issue citations for violations of the law.
Violations of the sale of alcohol at a gas station include:
- No beer or wine shall be displayed within five feet of the cash register or the front door unless it is in a permanently affixed cooler as of Jan. 1, 1988.
- No advertisement of alcoholic beverages shall be displayed at motor fuel islands, buildings, or windows.
- No sale of alcoholic beverages shall be made from a drive-in window.
- No display or sale of beer or wine shall be made from an ice tub.
- Employees on duty between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. who sell beer or wine shall be at least 21 years of age.
"Los Angeles has over 217 DUI deaths and 4,215 people are injured in motor vehicle accidents due to alcohol every year. We support Councilmember Blumenfield's motion because it is seeking to apply stricter conditions on the sales of alcohol at gas stations so we can avoid tragic DUI accidents on the road," said Sara Cooley, advocacy manager at Alcohol Justice.
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Blumenfield's office said it initiated a policy review after receiving reports that gas station alcohol sales may be more lax than other ABC-licensed vendors, and that practices such as easy access to single serving sales could encourage open containers and drunk driving.