New California Law Allows Breweries to Offer Free Taxi Rides
In California, your next ride home from the bar or taproom could come courtesy of the beer brand you were drinking–or any beer brand for that matter. As of January 1, the state has amended its existing alcoholic beverages code to allow beer manufacturers–essentially breweries and importers–to “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.”
Though giving beer brands the power to help curb drunk driving by offering consumers safe rides home might sound like a no-brainer, the original law wasn’t without its logic–and even the amendment, which was approved unanimously by the state legislature, wasn’t without its opponents. The original intention of the law was to prevent beer companies from over-incentivizing the purchase of booze with excessive gifts. As a result, the new amendment states that beer brands can’t tie the offer of free rides to the purchase of an alcoholic beverage. Still, the non-profit advocacy group Alcohol Justice suggests that the promise of a free ride tacitly endorses over-consumption. But in the end, the new regulations imply that the benefits of paying for a designated driver outweigh any potential negatives.
And California’s new rules certainly aren’t novel. According to the Sacramento Bee, 44 other states and the District of Columbia allow liquor manufacturers to offer free or discounted rides, meaning the change to California’s regulations simply brings the state more in line with other parts of the country. And as the new wave of tech-savvy taxi services like Uber and Lyft have hit the mainstream, partnerships with brewers have become increasingly prevalent. For instance, Budweiser partnered with Lyft to offer free rides in nine states to end 2017, and in October, the Massachusetts Brewers Guild also announced a partnership with Lyft to help beer tourists visit local breweries. Similar promotion in California probably won’t be far behind.