How to Stay Compliant and Safe in the Alcohol Industry

As the most populous state in the US, California communities are one of the largest alcohol markets in the nation. The growing alcohol market puts Californian citizens and communities at risk for increasing alcohol-related harm. The state legislature recognized that concerning risk and enacted the Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training Act in July 2022. The goal of this act is to unify the ethical and safe standards for employees of the alcohol industry. Safety when working in establishments where on-premise alcohol sales and consumption occur should be the top priority of bartenders, servers, bouncers, and their managers. 

Being a safe and compliant employee of California’s alcohol industry is straightforward and easily achievable. Our ABC-approved RBS training course utilizes real-world examples to help you better understand:

  • The legislation you must follow
  • Why it is essential
  • What can happen when you break the law
  • The skills you need to identify and adequately handle challenging situations

So, what should you know about bartender safety and compliance?

Understanding California’s Rules and Regulations

During your RBS training in California, you learn the general and specific rules to promote alcohol industry safety regarding serving and consumption and do your part in mitigating alcohol-related harm in Californian communities.

As a bartender, safety involves meeting specific qualifications to serve alcohol and being aware of your rights and responsibilities while serving. You could be held liable for damage or injuries your customers incur or cause should you be found guilty of violating the law.

After Receiving Your RBS Certification

The RBS Training Act applies to those who work for or own a California organization licensed by the state’s ABC board for on-premises alcohol sales and consumption. This includes businesses like bars, clubs, restaurants, stadiums, movie theaters, etc. Who within the organization has to be RBS certified? At a minimum, all employees who serve alcohol to customers or manage those servers should be certified.

Before 2 a.m. and After 6 a.m.

It is against the law in California to serve, sell, or help purchase alcoholic beverages anytime between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Doing so is considered a misdemeanor, and you could be fined up to $1000 and/or spend six months in jail. This law applies only when the alcohol is delivered to the customer. For example, if customers in an establishment purchase and open a bottle of wine before 2 am.., they are allowed to take it home.

Never to Someone That is Already Intoxicated

Under California law, it is illegal to give, sell, or help sell alcoholic beverages to an individual already presenting signs of intoxication. You can be charged with a misdemeanor, face six months of jail time, and/or be fined up to $1000 if you ignore this crucial aspect of bartender safety. Most importantly, this law applies to everyone, regardless of whether they are an employee of an establishment or a friend, partner, or relative of the intoxicated person.

Never Serve Anyone Under Age 21

Serving alcohol to anyone under 21 is against federal and state law. While this law may seem like common sense, it is very easily violated if you are not careful. Even when during busy rushes, always check a new customer’s ID card and the age it states they are. You and your employer can face civil, administrative, and possibly criminal charges if you are found to have served a minor that caused harm to themselves or others.

These are examples of the most common laws in California that a bartender must always follow while working. It is essential to double-check the requirements and codes in the municipality of your workplace, as some cities and counties may have additional laws regarding alcohol sales and service.

The Importance of Safe and Ethical Practices When Serving Alcohol

As a bartender, following the laws and regulations during each shift is paramount for the health and safety of yourself, your customer, and your establishment. Negligence or reckless service can lead to dire consequences, including some of the following outlined below.

Penalties You May Face and How to Avoid Them

If you or your employer are found to be negligent when serving alcoholic beverages to customers, you could be held liable for damages an overly intoxicated customer causes. You could also face fines and various penalties, such as:

  • Losing your job
  • Your employer may lose their license
  • Misdemeanors on your permanent record
  • Time in jail

RBS training in California is the ideal way to avoid facing any penalties for irresponsible alcohol service. You will learn your rights and expected level of care and help reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm in your communities. Staying compliant with California laws and following your RBS training ensures that you and your business maintain satisfied customers eager to return to your safe establishment for a good time.

How Enforcing Safe and Ethical Alcohol Service Benefits You and Your Business

Practicing alcohol industry safety does wonders for improving the abilities of your staff to create a positive atmosphere and outcomes for your business.

Establishes Confidence in Customers

Customers at an establishment where alcohol is sold and consumed can witness many situations that give a feeling of unease. It is well-known that drinking can lower inhibitions and make people more likely to act in a manner they would not otherwise while sober. During a rowdy night, problematic patrons may slip under the radar and threaten the welfare of others if a bartender does not remain vigilant and careful. Bartenders and staff that know how to handle these less-than-ideal situations carefully and efficiently give good customers confidence to return to an establishment that prioritizes their safety over a quick buck.

Encourages a Gleaming Reputation and Growing Revenue For Your Business

Customers that feel more comfortable drinking at an establishment where they know their safety is a priority to the staff will talk to friends and family about their great experiences. Many will even invite more people to visit and increase the number of patrons visiting and enjoying the drinks and atmosphere of your workplace. Ensuring you and other staff members practice every aspect of responsible and ethical alcohol service will help you generate more revenue and tips. You can even grow a crowd of regulars that helps you generate a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Lowers the Risk of Alcohol-Related Harm Impacting Your Business

When bartender safety is a regular practice in your establishment, you and other staff members are doing your part to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related harm, including:

  • Reducing the number of DUIs
  • Lowering instances of over-intoxication and its adverse effects
  • Contributing to reducing the occurrence of underage drinking

With fewer negative results from the over-consumption of alcohol and serving minors, your community will feel more comfortable and safe knowing that your establishment is a safe space that does not contribute to dangerous activities.

Best Practices for Business Owners and Employees

There are various ways owners, managers, and employees can practice safe and responsible beverage service while emphasizing the well-being of themselves and their patrons.

Have Adequate Staff Numbers for Each Shift

An easy way to ensure the safety of your employees and customers is to have enough eyes on the doors and the floor. Especially on busier nights, bartenders and servers can become overwhelmed with orders and swarmed by customers if the bar is understaffed. This lack of employees prevents them from sufficiently keeping a watchful eye out for potentially problematic patrons and makes it easier to serve alcohol to an overly intoxicated individual. Having enough staff on the schedule is a surefire way to keep the shift going smoothly and safely.

Eat and Get Sufficient Rest Before Your Shift

It is common practice in the service industry to rely on stimulants like caffeine and nicotine to power you through the wild rushes and late closing shifts. However, even the most seasoned bartenders recognize that the most painless way to get through late nights as a bartender is to have a nutritious meal and restful sleep before coming to work.

Adequate rest and meals help you sustain higher energy levels for longer, allowing you to stay vigilant throughout your shifts without the severe caffeine crash. Getting stuck in bad habits can be detrimental to your health and the quality of your work, especially working in the alcohol industry. Stay ahead of the challenges and prepare to be a compliant and safe bartender with good food and sleep before work.

Properly Check the ID cards of Every Customer

Before taking a customer’s order for an alcoholic beverage, every bartender or server should double-check the ID information of the customer. While many establishments have staff that checks patrons’ IDs before granting them entry, servers, and bartenders should always ensure that the customers are who they say they are and have valid IDs to prove they are of age to partake.

Sometimes, minors may have older friends sneak them through side entrances on busy nights. There is always the chance in a crowded bar or club that someone has managed to slip in without a staff member checking their ID. That is why you should always check IDs by having the customer pull their card out from their wallet or cardholder. While holding it, check the feel of the edges and sides. Do the math for their stated age and ensure the photo’s facial features match the person handing it over. Make checking the IDs a habit, and you will significantly lower the risk of selling alcohol to a minor or anyone without a proper ID.

Learn How to Spot an Intoxicated Customer

California law defines an obviously intoxicated person as someone showing clear signs and behavior associated with having too much to drink. Some signs of intoxication include stumbling, swaying, slurring words, changing volume and speed of speech, watery red eyes, etc.

There are many other signs that bartenders should be aware of in their customers, especially regulars who may have a drinking problem. When you see these signs in one of your customers, it is time to inform them that you can no longer continue to serve them alcoholic beverages.

As stated above, it is illegal in California to serve alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers. One of the most crucial parts of alcohol industry safety is learning how to navigate these situations safely and efficiently to ensure the safety of the intoxicated individual, other patrons, and yourself.

Ensure Each Staff Member Has Updated RBS Training

RBS training in California is required for all staff members who serve alcohol in an establishment. It allows them to learn every aspect of adequate bartender safety to ensure the business thrives and compliance is achieved every shift. By staying up to date and renewing the RBS training license, bartenders, servers, and bouncers will know the best ways to handle difficult situations if they do occur.

Stay On Top with RBS Training

Following the law, avoiding violations, and navigating challenging situations with intoxicated customers are all central components of being a good bartender. To be a fantastic bartender, enrolling in the RBS Training program teaches you everything you need to know with updated and real-life scenarios, including:

  • All the rules and regulations you must follow
  • The best ways to ensure compliance with the laws
  • How alcohol impacts the body
  • Tactics for avoiding serving obviously intoxicated customers and minors

Becoming an RBS-certified employee of the alcohol industry in California with help you avoid legal, administrative, and financial penalties that could have severe consequences on your life and career. Additionally, you are doing your part to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related harm in California’s communities.

Promoting safe consumption and responsible service will help you, your business and your community flourish while complying with California law. Get started with your RBS training today.