New California law allows alcohol sellers to offer free, discounted rides

(KGTV) - A new California law taking effect on Jan. 1 hopes to reduce the number of impaired drivers on roads in 2018.

Assembly Bill 711 will go into effect on January 1. The bill allows licensed alcohol sellers and manufacturers to offer free or discounted rides, such as ride-sharing services, taxis, or other options.

RELATED: New laws coming to California roads in 2018

Previous rules prevent sellers from giving away free goods or gifts related to alcohol consumption outside of an invitation-only event.

While free or discounted rides can be offered, they cannot be used as an incentive to purchase alcoholic beverages, according to the legislation.

Alcohol sellers and manufacturers may:

"...provide directly to consumers free or discounted rides through taxicabs, transportation network companies, or any other ride service for the purpose of furthering public safety. The free or discounted rides may be provided by vouchers, codes, or any other method to deliver the free or discounted ride. A free or discounted ride, or the provision of a voucher, code, or other method of delivery, shall not be conditioned upon the purchase of an alcoholic beverage. A beer and wine wholesaler shall not directly or indirectly underwrite, share in, or contribute to, the costs of free or discounted rides or serve as an agent of a beer manufacturer to provide free or discounted rides to consumers."

The bill was signed into law in September by Governor Jerry Brown. State Rep. Evan Low introduced the bill after Super Bowl 50, according to a bill analysis.

"The entire Bay Area community came together to ensure it was a successful, family-friendly, and safe event. Beer manufacturers wanted to play their part in this community success by providing attendees with a ride home via vouchers or discount codes," the analysis reads. "Unfortunately, they were unable to provide this service for safe modes of post-alcohol consumption transportation because of the $3 limit under current law."

According to the analysis, 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow free or discounted rides from licensed alcohol sellers.

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