California’s Mandatory Alcohol Server Training Law Goes into Effect July 1,2022

By August 31, 2022 alcohol servers and their managers must be certified

Sacramento – Over 97,000 alcohol servers and managers in California have registered with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to start the three-step process of becoming certified and compliant with a new law going into effect July 1, 2022.

The new law requires alcohol servers and their managers at over 56,000 businesses to meet mandatory training requirements under the Responsible Beverage Service Training Program Act. By August 31, 2022, all of them must register with ABC, be trained by an ABC approved Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training Provider and pass an ABC exam. Anyone hired after July 1 must pass the exam and be certified 60 days from the first day of employment.

Assembly Bill 1221 was signed into law in 2017, it defines an alcohol server as anyone that is employed at an ABC on-premises licensed establishment who is responsible for checking identifications, taking customer orders, and pouring or delivering alcoholic beverages. An ABC on-premises licensed establishment is any business in California that serves alcohol for consumption on site such as a bar, restaurant, winery, brewery, or distillery with on-sale privileges.

“The department’s goal is to gain statewide compliance with the new law and take an educational approach towards businesses that have not met the requirement,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata.

While alcohol servers and their managers must take the steps necessary to become certified, ABC reminds the public that it is ultimately the responsibility of licensees to ensure their servers and managers of servers are compliant with the certification requirement. There are no criminal penalties against either licensees or their employees for non-compliance.

ABC developed the RBS program by holding meetings around the state with stakeholders to gather input to determine the best method of meeting the new training mandate. Based on input, ABC created the RBS training portal. The portal provides access to an alcoholic beverage training service and certification program to address the requirements of AB 1221.

RBS Training and Certification is a Three-Step process:

  1. Register with ABC as a Server on the RBS Portal
  2. Take RBS training from an approved RBS Training Provider
  3. Return to the RBS Portal to take ABC’s alcohol server certification exam

The portal allows servers and managers to complete these steps. They can register as a server, search for training providers, and complete the exam all in one place.

“Responsible Beverage Service Training gives alcohol servers the knowledge and skills to help serve alcohol responsibly,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata. “This training program will help prevent underage drinking and alcohol-related traffic collisions throughout the state and can make provide communities safer for all Californians.”

Over 9,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in California between 2009 and 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Prospective RBS training providers are still being encouraged to submit their applications to ABC on the RBS Portal. ABC reviews the trainer applications to determine if they meet the standards for certification to train servers to serve alcohol safely and responsibly.

ABC protects communities through education and by administering prevention and enforcement programs designed to increase compliance with California’s alcoholic beverage laws.

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