By LIZZIE LARSEN
R.E.A.L.I.T.Y. (Raise Expectations and Acknowledge the Legacy Impacting Today’s Youth) check.
This spring I was selected to represent Whitehall High School at Montana Girl’s State. When I attended in June, I presented a bill entitled “Mandatory Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training (RASS).” My bill essentially required anyone who sells or serves alcohol to attend an alcohol server class.
The class is a few hours long and focuses on things like how to spot a fake ID, the law that prohibits sales to anyone “who is apparently, obviously or actually intoxicated,” and the personal civil liability a server or seller carries if an underage or over served individual gets behind the wheel. These topics teach those who attend how to do their job responsibly while keeping themselves, their customers, and the community safe.
This is a hot button topic in communities around Montana. For the first time in Montana’s history, a bartender and manager were charged criminally after they over served the man who hit Trooper Michael Haynes head on. Trooper Haynes died as a result of his injuries. This criminal charge embodies a shift being seen across Montana as lawmakers grapple to get a handle on the state’s overwhelming DUI problem. Alcohol sellers and servers are being held accountable for those they serve who get behind the wheel after they over indulge.
A similar bill came out of the Senate Joint Resolution 39 Interim Committee and will be debated and decided before our legislators in 2011. At the September SJR 39 meeting members of REALITY check, including myself, gave public comment on the proposed bills. I specifically spoke on the Mandatory RASS bill because of my previous knowledge and experience at Girl’s State where my proposed bill was debated and passed unanimously. I firmly believe that the passage of this bill is a simple action that can help reduce our state’s staggering DUI and underage drinking problem.
Many people are required to be trained and licensed to do their jobs. When we get our hair cut, our stylist has his or her license from the state of Montana hanging on their wall. This piece of paper ensures they have been adequately trained to do their job safely. Why not require individuals who sell alcohol to attend three hours of training every two years? Taking time to attend three hours of training is well worth the benefit of lives it can save. If lawmakers want to make a serious dent in our DUI problems, this is one evidence-based solution that must be implemented.
Lizzie Larsen is a senior at Whitehall High School.