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As California’s New Mandatory Responsible Beverage Service Certification Deadline Looms, San Francisco Wine School Offers ABC Accredited Live Training for 1 Million Servers in Need

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All alcoholic beverage servers & managers are required to certify for responsible beverage service by August 31, 2022, per the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

June 27, 2022 – The State of California has issued a new mandate for Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) certification, for all 56,000 licensed businesses in California where alcohol is served that goes into effect this Friday, July 1. The brand-new training and certification requirement is mandatory for everyone from servers to bartenders to bouncers, anyone who is part of the on-premise alcohol sales and service process for consumers.  These individuals and their managers must be trained through an approved RBS program and pass the California’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Control’s (ABC) certification exam by August 31, 2022. On-premise licensees who do not have all alcoholic beverage service staff and managers certified by this date will be out of compliance with the ABC when enforcement begins. This legislation was part of Assembly bills 1221 and 82, which charged the ABC to create this training and certification process.   There are only a handful of certifying organizations within the state like San Francisco Wine School, (SFWS) whose program is approved by the ABC to offer live, instructor-led training online, at their education and event center in South San Francisco, and at client locations throughout the state.

A noted certification-focused wine education and event organization, SFWS has been in operation since 2011, offering 25 different programs, along with a wide array of workshops, public events, and private experiences for both trade and consumers.   Recognizing that this mandate needed to serve a wide audience in a short period of time, co-owners David Glancy, MS and Kristin Campbell jumped into action and began developing their program last year. SFWS has their 4-hour certification class available publicly on July 26, August 22, and September 27 for a cost of $45 per person with opportunities for group discounts. In addition, the school offers groups, associations, and individual wineries, bars, and restaurants this training privately, allowing them to focus discussions on areas and examples that are most relevant to their particular business.  SFWS’ RBS program is also expected to be available in Spanish in the coming weeks.

According to Campbell, “RBS training educates persons seeking employment or who are currently employed as servers for on-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages. It aims to provide these important staff and managers with the necessary skills to responsibly serve alcoholic beverages and mitigate alcohol-related harm in California communities. We used our deep industry knowledge to create a curriculum that is in strict compliance with the ABC’s requirements with the goal of successful certification for all students and are one of only ten approved “in-person” providers authorized to teach live throughout the state.” SFWS has also pioneered hybrid room/zoom offerings during the pandemic where attendees can either attend live in-person or online and receive custom tasting kits across the US when wine is part of the experience.  “Using our state-of-the-art AV system for RBS training will allow us to conveniently and effectively train servers across the state and minimize travel expenses for those who want to participate from home or work.” 

Important to note, TIPS, ServeSafe, and LEAD programs and certification completed prior to May 2021 do NOT satisfy the requirements for California’s Responsible Beverage Service Certification. 

How the RBS Training and Certification Process Works at San Francisco Wine School

Once registered for a training program at https://sanfranciscowineschool.com/rbs, each on-premise server and manager is required to register with the ABC at https://abcbiz.abc.ca.gov/ before the program start date and pay a $3 fee to obtain their Server ID. This Server ID is presented to SFWS who then certifies their class participation after the training, thereby opening their exam.  They must then pass the ABC’s online RBS exam with a score of 70% or higher within 3 attempts after completion of the program to earn the state mandated RBS certification.  

About California’s Responsible Beverage Service Training Program Act and Related Certification

Passage of California Assembly Bill 1221 in 2017 created the Responsible Beverage Service Training Program Act. The bill required the Alcoholic Beverage Control to create the Responsible Beverage Service Training Program (RBSTP) to ensure servers and their managers of alcoholic beverages are educated on the dangers of serving alcohol to minors and over-serving alcohol to patrons with the intention of reducing alcohol-related harm to local communities. The mandate creates a new training requirement for roughly 1,000,000 alcohol servers and managers of alcohol servers at an estimated 56,000 ABC licensees with on-premise alcohol sales privileges. The alcohol servers and managers who work at those locations must register with the ABC, be trained by an ABC approved program, and pass an ABC exam to be certified within 60 days of the enactment or after their first date of employment whichever is later.

This certification must be renewed every 3 years by all alcohol servers as mandated by these new regulations.

The passing of Assembly Bill 82, on June 29, 2020, extended the date in which this requirement is enacted to July 1, 2022. This change was made to alleviate the financial strain on the hospitality industry caused by the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Effective July 1, 2022, all alcohol servers and their managers must obtain a valid RBS certification though an ABC accredited RBS training provider within 60 calendar days from the effective date or their first date of employment. Uncertified Servers, Managers and Licensees will be out of compliance with this law beginning August 31, 2022, when enforcement begins.

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