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By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

August 3, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- More than 9,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in California between 2009 and 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. A California law is now in effect that requires bartenders and servers of alcoholic beverages to get proper training, in an effort to reduce instances of overserving intoxicated customers and prevent service to minors. It’s known in the industry as Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training and it’s offered by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Additionally, a voluntary training, called Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs, is offered by the ABC for owners, managers, and staff of liquor stores, corner markets, and any other retail establishment that sells alcohol to consume off-site.

For the RBS training, all alcohol servers and their managers need to register, get trained, and pass California’s server test by Sep. 1, 2022. After that date, new servers and managers must complete these steps within 60 days of hire. The law applies to anyone who verifies customer IDs before serving them alcohol or allowing them entry to an establishment that serves alcohol; anyone who takes customer orders for alcoholic beverages; pours alcoholic drinks for customers; delivers alcoholic drinks to customers; and everyone who manages or supervises an alcohol server.

The Responsible Beverage Service Training Program Act (Assembly Bill 1221) was signed into law in 2017. An ABC on-premises licensed establishment is any business in California that serves alcohol for consumption on sites such as a bar, restaurant, winery, brewery, or distillery with on-sale privileges. While alcohol servers and their managers must take the steps necessary to become certified, it is ultimately the responsibility of licensees to ensure their servers and managers of servers are compliant with the certification requirement.

“The department’s goal is to gain statewide compliance with the new law and take an educational approach toward businesses that have not met the requirement,” ABC Director Eric Hirata said in a news release. “This training program will help prevent underage drinking and alcohol-related traffic collisions throughout the state and can make communities safer for all Californians.”

An RBS training course teaches alcohol servers about laws that may affect their jobs, and goes over how alcohol can affect the community, how alcohol affects the body, practical techniques for refusing or slowing alcohol service, and how to create management policies that support responsible beverage service. A certificate from an RBS training is good for three years.

LEAD training, according to the ABC website “provides attendees with practical information on selling alcoholic beverages safely, responsibly, and legally, with emphasis on preventing sales to minors, sales to obviously intoxicated persons, and illicit drug activity at the licensed establishment.” RBS training is offered through certified training programs and is available both online and in person. LEAD training is also available online and in person. Each program training is approximately three hours. Additional information is available on the ABC website:

With these two training sessions, there is no legitimate reason alcohol retailers should sell to minors, or intoxicated persons, or overserve their patrons. Hopefully these two programs will have a significant impact on reducing the number of DUIs, crashes, and deaths that occur because of alcohol sales in California.

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