Now California Beer Makers & Sellers Can Get You Home Safely

beer-makers-give-free-ridesIf beer has a job, it’s to get you drunk, or at least loosen you up while you enjoy a burger or wings. If beer makers have a job, it’s to sell you more beer. But thanks to a new California law, California beer makers – and sellers – have taken on a second job: getting drinkers home safely by offering free rides home.

Assembly Bill 711 became law in January. The law allows beer makers and vendors to provide free rides, or discounted ones, “for the purpose of furthering public safety.”

The bill was passed unanimously, indicating that this is an idea that is right for 2018. In fact, Assemblyman Evan Low got the idea after realizing that beer producers were not allowed to underwrite rides after Superbowl 50. That event is notorious for the trail of drunk driving arrests and collisions that occurs in its wake.

There’s one condition in the law worth noting. California beer makers and sellers are prohibited from offering the rides as incentives – no “buy our beer and get a free ride.” So the rides have to be offered in good faith, as a form of advertising, not a direct scheme to boost sales.

Not surprisingly, the rideshare company Lyft was a proponent of the bill. That company, as well as others who provide such transport, will stand to profit. But that shouldn’t make anyone wary – the ultimate goal should be to get people out of their cars when they’ve been drinking, and this law does it.

Another boon to road safety is coming a year from now, when the state’s all-offender ignition interlock program goes statewide (right now it’s still a pilot program in a few counties). Fighting drunk driving on as many fronts as possible is the right way to tackle the problem. Give beer producers a role in the fight makes perfect sense.