The State ABC’s Responsible Beverage Service Training Program
Many licensees are still not fully aware of the new statutory requirement for employee and managerial training. There are strict guidelines and a timeline for adherence. Failure to meet the mandate could result in disciplinary proceedings against the licensee. The State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)’s mandatory Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training Program deadline starts ticking just days from now. The RBS program goes into effect on July 1, 2022, and all alcohol server and their manager must obtain a valid RBS certification as well as pass an online ABC administered RBS exam by August 31, 2022 or within 60 calendar days of employment. Moreover, fees must be paid to the Department for this certification.
Background. The passage of Assembly Bill 1221 in 2017 established the Responsible Beverage Service Training Program Act. AB 1221 required the ABC to create the RBS Training Program. The goal of the training program is to ensure alcoholic beverage servers and their managers are educated on the responsible practices regarding the sale and service of alcoholic beverages to curb harm related to underage drinking and the overuse of alcohol in California communities.
Who must participate? Any ABC licensee with on-site sale licenses (i.e., restaurants, bars, clubs, and others) are required to ensure their alcohol servers and managers receive the RBS training and certification. Note also that a nonprofit organization that has obtained a temporary daily on-sale license or a temporary daily off-sale license from the ABC is required to designate a person(s) to receive RBS training prior to the event, and that designated person(s) is required to remain on site for the duration of the event. Off-sale licenses may also be required to have their employees and managers get certified where alcohol may be served in those premises (e.g. Type 86 tasting licensees).
How do you obtain certification? The ABC has developed what it describes as an easy to follow three-step certification process:
- First, you need to register with the ABC as a server on the RBS Portal.
- Then, take the RBS training from an approved RBS Training Provider. You can find an approved RBS Training Provider through the RBS Portal.
- Finally, return to the RBS Portal to take ABC’s alcohol server certification exam. Note, you have 30 days to pass the certification exam after completing your training.
The ABC has also provided a detailed step by step tutorial for navigating the RBS Portal. It is important to note that the RBS certification is valid for three years and must be renewed prior to its expiration to remain valid.
There are now ABC certified training companies who may provide this training in person or by video conferencing. One such company is Jerry R. Jolly & Associates’ Certified Alcohol Training program developed and taught by former ABC executives, managers, and investigators.
 An alcohol server who was employed by the licensee prior to July 1, 2021, shall obtain an alcohol server certification by August 31, 2021. And an alcohol server employed by the licensee on or after July 1, 2021, shall obtain an alcohol server certification within 60 calendar days of employment.
 The following license types have on-premises privileges: Type 1, 2, 3, 4, 23, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 83, 86, 87, 88, 99. Note, while Type 54 and 55 also have on-premises privileges, the two license types are exempt from RBS training and certification.
 “Alcohol server” includes anyone who checks customer IDs for the purpose of alcohol beverage service or entry to an ABC on-premises licensed establishment, takes customer alcohol beverage orders, pours alcohol beverages for customers, or delivers alcoholic beverages to customers.
 “Managers” include anyone who directly hires alcohol servers, oversees alcohol servers at an ABC licensed premises, or trains alcohol servers how to perform the services of alcohol for consumption for an ABC on-premises licensee.