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New law to boost funding for DUI prevention program

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that will double the funding for a CHP program that discourages drunken drivers from getting behind the wheel of a car.

Restaurants, bars and other businesses throughout California that sell alcohol will fund the increase, paying a $10 surcharge when renewing their alcoholic beverage licenses beginning in 2019. Currently, the surcharge is $5.

Money collected from the surcharge goes to the Designated Driver Program, a CHP project started in 1990 that uses TV advertising, billboards and social media outreach to warn the public against driving drunk.

In 2016, 1,059 people throughout the state died as a result of DUI crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

The California Attorney General’s Office reported more than 35,200 alcohol-related crashes statewide the same year.

Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and signed by the governor Saturday, the legislation also will allow spirit makers to offer free or discounted rides through taxis or other ride services, such as Lyft or Uber. Previously, only beer manufacturers had that right.

The bill passed the Senate floor with almost no opposition and was backed by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, AAA of Northern California and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“There hasn’t been an increase (in the surcharge) in ?28 years and our supporters were asking for more money to do public outreach, which makes sense,” said Paul Payne, a spokesman for Dodd.

Last year, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which issues the alcohol licenses, collected about $439,000 for the program, according to a bill analysis. Annual funding for the program is expected to surpass $900,000 now that the bill is signed into law.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter ?@nashellytweets.

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