New CA Law in 2018: Free Rides Home When You're Drunk

As you head to the bar for New Year's Eve, or to a friend's party, there may be alcohol involved, making it impossible to drive home safely. 

A new California state law that takes effect Jan. 1 is hoping to change that for the sake of public safety. 

Under Assembly Bill 711, alcohol manufacturers and licensed sellers can offer free or discounted rides through ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, or taxicabs. This is to ensure drinkers are transported home safely. 

Codes or vouchers can be given to alcohol sellers or directly to alcohol consumers. However, they cannot be offered as incentives to buy a company's product. 

Lyft has publically stated support for the bill. 

Uber sent a statement to NBC 7 Wednesday saying they were in favor of the legislation, “We are always supportive of efforts to reduce drunk driving. That is why we have partnered with MADD over the past few years to promote safety and getting a designated driver.” 

Current California law prohibits alcohol licensees from giving discounts to consumers.

There are some exceptions to this rule, wine and liquor manufacturers have been allowed on a temporary basis to pay for rides for drinkers attending private, invitation-only events. 

This new initiative would relax those rules, allowing alcohol manufacturers to give out free or discounted rides in all cases to keep drunk drivers off the road. 

The measure was introduced by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Cupertino. 

Proponents of the bill said forty-four other states and the District of Columbia allow liquor manufacturers to pay for free or discounted rides during legislative analysis. 

But some are against the measure. Alcohol Justice, a nonprofit based in San Rafael, stated, "While drunk driving is a serious concern to public safety, and efforts to reduce it should generally be applauded, this bill implicitly allows for beer manufacturers to promote the overconsumption of alcohol."

Alcohol Justice goes on to say, "It will negatively impact public health and safety and increase the potential for alcohol-related problems."

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