California Passes Bill That Requires Bars to Provide ‘Roofie’ Test Kits for Customers

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 07, 2024

The state of California has passed several controversial bills over the past couple of years. However, there’s little to debate over the newest piece of legislation, as it helps keep California’s residents and visitors safe.

State legislators recently passed Assembly Bill 1013, which requires all license 48 liquor establishments to have drink test kits on hand for customers. The bill will go into effect July 1, 2024.

The Alcohol Beverage Control Act

Assembly Bill 1013, also known as the Alcohol Beverage Control Act, was approved by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2023 and finalized earlier this month.

The logo for the 2023 California alcoholic beverage control act on a black background

Source: ABC.CA.gv

The bill “require[s] an applicant for a new permanent on-sale general public premises (Type 48) license or the holder of an existing Type 48 license to offer for sale to their customers drug testing devices at a cost not to exceed a reasonable amount based on the wholesale cost of those devices.”


Which California Bars Are Considered Type 48?

The bill specifies several times that only Type 48 licensees are the only establishments that need to provide the drink test kits.

A crowd of people dance at a nightclub in bright colored lights

Source: Freepik

According to California law, Type 48 licenses are “designated for establishments that are nor primarily eateries,” but that serve alcohol on site. Essentially, bars, taverns, nightclubs, or cocktail lounges, but not restaurants where food and minors are served.

What Are Drink Test Kits?

The new bill ensures that every nightclub or bar in California will have drink test kits available for their customers.  But what, exactly, are these kits and why are they so important?

A hand is putting a white pill into a drink at a bar

Source: Adobe Stock

Drink test kits are small pieces of paper with which a person can test their drink to find out if it has been tampered with. Unfortunately, it has become quite common for people, but more specifically men, to add drugs to another person’s, most often a woman’s, drink in order to alter their mental state before an assault.

How Do the Test Kits Work?

A person can use a straw to release a drop of their drink on the test kit, or in some cases, place a piece of paper directly into their drink.

Photograph of instructions on how to use a drug testing kit

Source: Amazon

If the paper turns blue or black after coming in contact with the drink, it means that there are drugs present in the liquid.

What Kinds of Drugs Are People Adding to Drinks?

Often known as “roofies,” the most commonly used drug is called Rohypnol. Rohypnol causes impaired mental functioning or judgment, confusion, excitability, and muscle relaxation.

Black and white photograph of the prescription drug Rohypnol

Source: @SABCNews/YouTube

It is typically prescribed by medical professionals to treat insomnia, but sadly, it is most often used to confuse and disable a person prior to assault.


How Are These Drugs Added to Drinks at a Bar?

Rohypnol is sold as a pill, but most abusers will crush the pills before adding them to a victim’s drink so that they dissolve quickly.

A brown vial of liquid with the dropper beside it

Source: Depositphotos

Sometimes, people dissolve the drug ahead of time and use a vial of liquid to quickly and almost invisibly add a few drops to someone’s drink. No matter how the drug is placed in someone’s drink, it is completely transparent, flavorless, and undetectable without using drink test kits.


Don’t Bartenders Notice Someone Drugging a Drink?

While many bartenders are attentive to this common crime, it is not their responsibility, nor is it possible for them to watch every drink.

A male bartender pours a beer from a tap for a customer

Source: Freepik

Therefore, it typically falls on women and other possible victims to be hyper aware of who is near them and could have access to their beverage.


Once the Drug Is Added, It’s Almost Impossible to Know

However, once the drug has been added, it’s impossible to detect, except with the help of the drug test kits.

A woman sitting at a bar looking sadly into her glass of wine

Source: Freepik

And now, starting on July 1, 2024, if anyone in California is worried that their drink has been spiked, they can ask the bartender for a test kit to find out right away before they ingest the drugs and are possibly assaulted.


The California Bill Says Establishments Aren’t Responsible for Incorrect Tests

The Alcohol Beverage Control Act also explains that bars and nightclubs must have proper signage visible to customers that drink test kits are available.

Female bar owner in a red sweater behind the counter

Source: Depositphotos

However, the bill also stipulated that Type 48 licensees cannot be “held liable for a defective test or inaccurate test result.” Which is certainly a positive as it means establishments will be more likely to follow the law since there is truly no downside.


One California Bar Is Thrilled With the New Legislation

Overall, the Alcohol Beverage Control Act is a fantastic added safety measure for the residents and visitors of California, but also for the bars and nightclubs.

Photograph of Happy Does on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego before patrons arrive

Source: HappyDoesBar

Happy Does on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego reported that they’re glad the law has passed, saying, “It’s just a case of better safe than sorry. It’s a new thing we are adapting to as a bar and I am glad this bar is one of the first ones.”


People Deserve to Feel Safe When Having a Drink

In 2016 alone, there were more than 320,000 incidents of rape and sexual assault in the United States. According to the American Addiction Centers, 11.2% of college students have been sexually assaulted, and 56% of women have unknowingly consumed a spiked drink.

Several friends drink cocktails at a bar

Source: Freepik

California wholeheartedly believes that people should be able to enjoy a night out or a drink without worrying about being drugged or assaulted. And hopefully, this new law will decrease the chances of that happening in the Golden State.