Councilmember Bob Blumenfield Acts to Stop Drunk Driving and Illegal Beer Sales at Gas Stations

LOS ANGELES, CA – In an effort to reduce the likelihood of drunk driving and availability of alcohol to minors, the City Council has unanimously passed Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s motion to adopt stricter enforcement of the sale of alcoholic beverages at gas stations.

“This is a strong and rational step to help curb drinking and driving,” said Blumenfield. “We must make it harder for people who are filling up their car to grab a beer and get back on the road- this motion does just that. Gas stations will no longer be overlooked in city regulations governing alcohol sales.”

In California, the manufacture, distribution, storage and sale of alcohol is regulated by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). The city is responsible for permits to operate gas stations and other businesses. Though ABC holds the power on where and when alcohol is served, this change 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. Additionally, this will give the Department of Building and Safety and the Los Angeles Police Department added enforcement tools to inspect and issue citations if any of the following regulations are not being followed:

  1. 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 January 1, 1988.
  2. No advertisement of alcoholic beverages shall be displayed at motor fuel islands, buildings, or windows.
  3. No sale of alcoholic beverages shall be made from a drive-in window.
  4. No display or sale of beer or wine shall be made from an ice tub.
  5. Employees on duty between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 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," Sara Cooley, Advocacy Manager at Alcohol Justice.

"Los Angeles has the ability to place strict conditions on alcohol sales at gas stations under its zoning and policing powers. We would like to see single containers not sold at gas stations so people don't drink after they fuel up," said Gilbert Mora, COPALM and Behavioral Health Services Hollywood.

This motion also specifically instructs the Department of City Planning to report back on the number of businesses that concurrently sell motor vehicle fuel with beer and wine for off-site consumption on a citywide basis, and within each Council District. Also, it requests the City Attorney to report on legislative options available for applying certain conditions limiting the sale of alcohol in response to issues that may come up in each community.

Blumenfield initiated the policy review after reports that gas station sales may be more lax than other ABC licensed vendors, and that certain practices, such as easy access to single serving sales, could encourage open containers and drinking behind the wheel.

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