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History Of Way To Serve

On Christmas Eve in 1992, an all-too-familiar story unfolded in New Mexico. Gordon House, a youth counselor, drove drunk on Interstate 40 and caused a head-on crash that took the lives of Paul Craven's wife and three children. Only Paul and Gordon survived.

The news of another sad, senseless loss was relayed by the media. Many citizens wondered just what more it would take to change the state's long, tragic history of injury and death from drunk driving.

In January 1993, the New Mexico legislature responded. It passed laws to reduce drunk driving. One new law made Responsible Beverage Service training mandatory for all persons who sell alcohol. The goal was to keep customers from being served too much alcohol, becoming intoxicated, and driving drunk.

In almost 20 years since, Responsible Beverage Service training in any form has worked. Before the law, patrons who appeared intoxicated were refused service only 20% of the time. After the new law, refusal of service to apparently-intoxicated patrons increased to about 35% of the time. This was good news, but we can do better. Responsible Beverage Service has now caught on in many other states, too.

Researchers at the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions at the University of New Mexico were certain that responsible sales and service of alcohol could be improved. They set out to provide standardized training over the Internet on proven Responsible Beverage Service methods. In 2006, they obtained funds from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the U.S. National Institutes of Health to create Way To Serve.

Way To Serve was evaluated in 4 New Mexico communities, using what is known as a randomized study. Bars and restaurants whose servers were trained using Way To Serve were compared to premises that did not use Way To Serve. Refusal rates for customers who appeared intoxicated increased from 35% to almost 70% after training by Way To Serve. And, nearly every time it was tested, staff at premises using Way To Serve refused more apparently-intoxicated customers than premises that did not use it.

Way To Serve is now available to the public, through a license agreement with Wedge Communications LLC. Wedge Communications specializes in moving effective programs from university research to the marketplace.

Way To Serve is an excellent choice for servers, managers, and owners who wish to serve alcohol in a thoughtful, careful, and responsible way. Improving Responsible Alcohol Service increases the quality of life for all citizens and residents.