Who Needs RBS Certification | Penalties and Facts

The Responsible Beverage Service Training Act was created in 2017 by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC.) Since then, servers, managers, bartenders, and anyone else who provides alcoholic beverages require an RBS certificate to continue service.

If you are a bar, restaurant, pub, or any establishment that serves alcoholic beverages in California, you will need proof of an RBS certification to continue serving alcohol. An RBS certification has been required to serve alcoholic beverages in California since July 1st, 2022.

What is an RBS Certification?

The Responsible Beverage Service certification proves you understand the alcohol laws of California and have been trained to mitigate alcohol-related harm in California communities by responsibly serving alcoholic beverages.

Otherwise, in layman’s terms, an RBS certification demonstrates that you know how to serve alcohol and when not to serve alcohol to reduce alcohol-related harm in California.

What is Alcohol-Related Harm?

Alcohol-related harm is anything that harms a person, property, or community caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. Examples of alcohol-related harm are:

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence is a serious offense. When someone is too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle, they’ve reached a level of intoxication that can lead to alcohol-related accidents. The RBS training in California teaches alcohol servers and managers the legal blood content allowance, which is 0.08% in California.

If a patron is intoxicated and an ABC-licensed establishment does not stop them, they are liable to cause alcohol-related harm to themselves, the community, or others. Even bicycles and other non-motor vehicles should not be operated under the influence.

An RBS certification ensures that alcohol servers recognize the harm this can cause to communities and individuals.

Physical Harm

Intoxication can lead to physical harm or another alcohol-related injury. If a patron is intoxicated and receives, delivers, or causes bodily damage to themselves or others, they have caused physical harm.

The RBS training program helps alcohol servers recognize when a patron has had too much to drink and knows when to refuse service to a patron on the verge of intoxication. 

Internal Harm

The RBS training program informs you that knowingly overdosing a patron on alcohol can lead to alcohol-related harm. Specifically, it can lead to internal injuries such as liver failure, heart disease, digestive problems, and high blood pressure. This is considered internal harm, and the RBS training in California teaches alcohol servers how to avoid allowing patrons to over-consume alcohol.

Who Needs RBS Certification?

An RBS certification is the first step in being able to serve, provide, or carry alcoholic beverages in California. As such, several individuals need to complete an RBS training program before returning to work.

Alcohol Servers

According to the state of California, alcohol servers are anyone responsible for the following:

  • Check customer identification before entering the ABC-licensed establishment and serving alcoholic beverages.
  • Staff who take alcoholic beverage orders for customers.
  • Staff who pour alcoholic beverages for customers.
  • Staff who deliver alcoholic beverages to customers.

Alcohol servers must have an RBS certification to understand how to mitigate alcohol-related harm.

Server Managers

Your establishment needs Server Managers to run at peak efficiency. These are individuals who directly hire, train, or supervise alcohol servers in an ABC-licensed establishment. Managers are responsible for ensuring their alcohol servers have an RBS certification and provide alcohol service training for alcohol servers. Ordinarily, these are the bar managers in a restaurant, pubs, or other ACB-licensed establishments.

Server Managers are not third-party ABC licensees that train alcohol servers in marketing and distribution.

One-Day Events

Companies, businesses, and non-profit organizations who want to serve alcohol at an event must have at least one person on-site with an RBS certification. The designated individual must have their accreditation on the day of the event and must oversee alcohol service and distribution.


If you own an ABC-licensed establishment, you should always get an RBS certification. California law requires all managers, employees, and other individuals of an ABC-licensed establishment to have an RBS certification to serve alcoholic beverages on-premise.

For more information on who needs RBS certification in California, defer to the ABC homepage here.

Penalties for Lack of RBS Certification

The new rule only came into effect recently, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. By September 1st, 2022, all alcohol servers and managers must have their RBS certification to work in an ABC-licensed establishment. These records are subject to inspection by the ABC upon request, so ensure to maintain records of employee certifications.

If you fail to comply with the mandate, meaning that your alcohol servers and managers have not received an RBS certification, you will be subject to various penalties. Just for the violation, a licensed business will face a 10-day suspension, with a variable addition of time, based on the following:

  • How many employees still need to complete the RBS training program.
  • How long those employees have been working without an RBS certification.
  • Previous ABC violations by the establishment under the Responsible Beverage Service Training Act.

Continuous violations can permanently suspend alcohol-related services for your establishment and revoke your ABC license. Once you receive your suspension, it must be served consecutively. This means that if you are found violating the ABC mandates, you will be suspended the total amount immediately.

For many establishments, losing the ability to serve alcohol can be crippling. 

How To Receive An RBS Certification

Owners, managers, and alcohol servers should find an RBS training program to receive an RBS certification. RBS training can be completed online in just four easy steps.

  • 1. Purchase Course
    • This is when you decide which RBS certification you need.
  • 2. Register with California Beverage Control.
    • You must register with the ABC to receive your Student ID for RBS training. 
    • You must have this number to submit your training completion to qualify for the state exam.
  • 3. Complete Your Course
    • Provide your Student ID number and complete the course at your own pace.
  • 4. Take State Exam
    • Once you complete your RBS training for California, the RBS training program will submit your student ID to the ABC.
    • The state exam must be completed within 30 days of receiving it.

Once these four steps are completed, congratulations! You are now certified and trained on ways to help minimize alcohol-related harm and serve alcoholic beverages. We encourage you to complete your RBS certification as soon as possible to avoid any ABC violations or alcohol-related harm to your beloved community.