Mandated Education for Businesses Selling Alcohol


May 16, 2022

TO: All Clients of the Law Office

FROM: Paul P. Cheng, Esq.

RE: Mandated Education for Businesses Selling Alcohol

Dear Valued Client,

Introduction. California Assembly Bill 1221 (“AB 1221”) will require, starting from July 1, 2022, that any business that sells alcohol have their alcohol servers and managers be trained in Responsible Beverage Service (“RBS”) and certified by ABC within 60 days of July 1, 2022. The law can be found here: 180AB1221

What is the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control? The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, commonly known as the “ABC” is an agency of the government of the state of California charged with regulation of alcoholic beverages. The ABC was created by constitutional amendment effective January 1, 1955, as an independent department of the executive branch of the state government.

Who Must Take the Class. Any server or manager that is part of serving alcohol. Beginning in July 2022, any ABC licensee who has an “ABC OnPremises License” will need to have their staff (alcohol servers and managers of alcohol servers) trained and certified in RBS within sixty (60) days of the date of initial employment. This includes but is not limited to restaurants, bars, fast casual dining, tasting rooms (including off-sale locations), hotels, and stadiums. RBS certification means that the alcohol server has successfully completed training by an ABC approved training provider and passed the alcohol server certification exam (hosted by ABC). Once the server has successfully completed the training and exam, their certification is valid for 3 years. The alcohol server certification must be renewed prior to its expiration to remain valid. “ABC On-Premises License” means an ABC license that grants the privilege to serve alcoholic beverages to customers who then consume them on the licensed premises. 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.

A. Alcohol Server Definition. An alcohol server, as defined under AB-1221 includes anyone who does any of the following: (1) Checks customer identification for purposes of alcoholic beverage service or entry to an ABC on-premises licensed establishment; (2) Takes customer alcoholic beverage orders; (3) Pours alcoholic beverages for customers; or (4) Delivers alcoholic beverages to customers.

B. Alcohol Manager Definition. A manager means any person who trains, directly hires, or oversees alcohol servers at an ABC licensed premises, or any person who trains alcohol servers how to perform the service of alcohol for consumption for an ABC on-premises licensee, including but not limited to, when to check identification or when to refuse service to a patron.

How Does One Register as an Alcohol Server or Manager? To register as an alcohol server (including managers of alcohol servers) with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the alcohol server will need to create an account on the RBS Portal. Once an account has been created on the RBS Portal, the alcohol server will need to select and complete the Server Registration form. There is a $3.00 fee associated with the registration process. This $3.00 fee is non-refundable. Watch a short video (Click here) to learn how to become a registered server or manager.

In summary, the link will direct you here to have you register and take a class from the approved provider list.

Will a Prior Class Taken Apply to This State Mandate? Answer no. None of the responsible beverage service training providers currently offering services in CA were ABC approved for the upcoming statewide mandate.

Exemptions to the Class are Limited. The employees of a salon or barbershop do not have to be RBS trained and certified as they are not serving to the public for consumption at an ABC licensed premises. However, the department recommends all persons who serve alcohol for consumption voluntarily complete the certification. The alcohol servers and managers of alcohol servers for a Type 54 or Type 55 license are exempt from the AB 1221 training mandate.

Can a City or County Have More Strict Rules That Add More Training? Answer. Yes. AB 1221 has set the standards for the types of RBS trainings to be offered (both in-person and online, as well as in English and Spanish languages, at minimum), the frequency of certification (3 years), and who must attend RBS training (anyone who falls under the definition of an alcohol server or alcohol server manager). Cities and counties may apply additional ordinances that further support the efforts of AB-1221 but does not supersede the standards defined in the act. The legal mandates for AB 1221 go into effect July 1, 2022. Please check with your local city or county for additional requirements.

Conclusion. RBS training pursuant to AB 1221 must be done within 60 days of July 1, 2022. There are few exemptions. All employees and managers that serve alcohol must take this class immediately.

Very Truly Yours,

Paul P. Cheng, Esq.