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Is your California alcoholic beverage outlet ready for new August 1, 2022 ABC certification of all alcoholic beverage servers and managers?

10 June 2022

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.

Deadline nears. More than 56,000 business and 1 million servers are affected. Of the million servers, only 33,000 are certified now.

Is your California alcoholic beverage outlet ready for
new August 1, 2022 ABC certification
of all alcoholic beverage servers and managers?

Jim Butler, Chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®


Responsible Beverage Service Training Act of 2017 (the “RBSTA”)

A new law that many of the affected people have never heard about becomes effective July 1, 2022. It all involves liquor licenses from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) and persons employed by such licensees to serve alcohol to patrons.

The new law is known as the “Responsible Beverage Service Training Act of 2017” or “RBSTA.” Many are now using the acronym of “RBS” to refer to matters involving the RBSTA such as certification, training and related matters. It is embodied in the California Business & Professions Code (Div. 9, Ch. 16, Art. 4, Section 25680 et seq.).

Who is affected? How many are affected? How many comply today?

The ABC estimates that the law affects 56,000 businesses that hold on premise liquor licenses from the ABC and approximately 1 million servers of alcohol and their managers at such locations. Of the million servers and managers, only 33,000 have been certified to date!

Such licensees include all California restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, wineries, breweries, stadiums, event centers and virtually any other outlet that sells alcoholic beverages and permits customers to drink on site.

The new requirement is effective July 1, with an August 1, 2022 compliance deadline

Starting on July 1, a licensee that is subject to the RBSTA “shall not employ or continue to employ any alcohol server without a valid alcohol server certification.”

Servers employed before July 1, 2022, have a certification deadline of August 1, 2022, and those employed later have 60 calendar days from the date of employment.

What does it take to get “certification” under the RSBSA?  

Most affected businesses and people will find the education, testing and certification to be more of a problem in terms of administration, oversight and valuable time of management and staff. The out of pocket costs will be nominal, e.g. probably less than $20 per server or manager for each server or manager.

The education element for certification requires an estimated 3 to 4 hours of approved training, which can be done online in multiple sessions. The server must also get a passing grade of more than 70% on a 2-hour open book exam (with 3 attempts permitted before another training session must be taken). Some find the exam difficult. The server must also register the certification with the ABC. There appear to be a number of ABC-approved online service providers that offer assistance with training, examination and registration. One advertises that it is the only provider with a Spanish language course.

Who gets the certification and how long does it last?  

The certification is issued to an individual, and then it must be registered into the ABC’s database. There is no card issued, but an electronic registration is made.  Licensees will be able to verify certification online with the employee’s name and certification number. The certification is valid for 3 years.

Where is more help available?

Picture of Jim ButlerThis is Jim Butler, author of and founding partner of JMBM and JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®. We provide business and legal advice to hotel owners, developers, independent operators and investors. This advice covers critical hotel issues such as hotel purchase, sale, development, financing, franchise, management, ADA, and IP matters. We also have compelling experience in hotel litigation, union avoidance and union negotiations, and cybersecurity & data privacy.

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® has been involved in more than $125 billion of hotel transactions and more than 4,700 hotel properties located around the globe. Contact me at +1-310-201-3526 or to discuss how we can help.

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