LIQUOR;

OLR Research Report


March 5, 2003

 

2003-R-0242

ALCOHOL SERVER TRAINING LAWS

By: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst

You asked which states have laws concerning alcohol server training.

SUMMARY

We identified 21 states that have laws concerned with alcohol server training. Eleven states have laws requiring server training; ten have laws establishing voluntary programs.

Server training laws establish programs intended to educate bartenders, other alcohol servers, store clerks, and permit holders about responsible serving practices. Sixteen states have programs that apply to employees of establishments selling liquor for (1) on-premises consumption (e. g. restaurants) and (2) off-premises consumption (e. g. package stores). The other states either do not specify or have programs only for employees of establishments selling for on-premises consumption. Many state laws specify the minimum elements of a server training course. State laws generally require that course providers be certified.

States that require server training establish permit suspension or revocation as the penalty for failing to ensure that employees complete a server training course soon after being hired. States that establish voluntary programs establish incentives for program participation.

SERVER TRAINING COURSES

States have taken a wide range of approaches in specifying the elements of server training instruction. Alaska typifies the minimalist approach, “The subjects that are included in an approved alcohol server education course shall be determined under regulations adopted by the [licensing] board” (Alaska Stat. 04. 21. 025(b)). New Mexico’s approach is at the other end of the range. Its law requires training programs to include the study of: (1) alcohol’s effect on the body and behavior, including the effect on the ability to drive a car; (2) state liquor law, including liquor liability law; (3) methods of recognizing problem drinkers and techniques for intervening; (4) methods of identifying false drivers’ licenses; and (5) prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome (N. M. Stat. 60-6E-1).

COURSE PROVIDERS

Most state laws require the state liquor agency to approve programs that offer alcohol server training. State approval generally lasts for more than one year, typically three of four. After that time, the provider must reapply for state approval.

In some of the states that have established voluntary programs, a liquor-seller can become certified to offer the training program to his own employees. For example, a liquor seller (for either on- or off-premises consumption) in Alabama can become certified as a responsible vendor by (1) providing his employees with an approved course of instruction, (2) requiring all employees selling liquor to successfully complete the course within 30 days of employment, (3) requiring all trained employees to attend additional meetings semi-annually, (4) keeping records of employees and when they have participated in training, and (5) posting signs about the seller’s policy against selling to minors (Ala. Code 28-10-6).

COURSE CERTIFICATES

Some state laws require course providers to give participants a certificate after they successfully complete a course. A few make the certificate valid for a certain number of years and two state that a certificate is transportable. This means that a server working in two restaurants only needs to complete the course once.

INCENTIVES

The ten states that have established voluntary programs have all established incentives for becoming responsible vendors. For example, Arkansas requires the liquor licensing board to “consider certification of a permittee in the responsible permittee program in mitigation of administrative penalties or fines for a permittee’s or employee’s violation” of state liquor laws (Ark. Code 3-4-806). Maine allows proof of a server’s responsible serving practices to be admissible as evidence that the server was not negligent or reckless in suits brought under its liquor liability act (Me. Rev. Stat. 2515). It defines “responsible serving practices” as either the server’s attendance at an approved server education training course or the server’s implementation of responsible management policies, procedures, and actions. Michigan requires insurers offering liquor liability insurance policies to offer a server training discount plan based on completion of a certified server training course (Mich. Comp. Laws. 500. 2405).

STATES WITH SERVER TRAINING LAWS

Table 1 identifies the 21 states with server training laws. It also states whether the law is voluntary or mandatory and whether it applies to (1) permit holders and employees and (2) establishments selling for on- or off-premises consumption. It states whether the law includes minimum standards for server training courses. Finally, it briefly states the incentive to participate established in states with voluntary server training programs.

TABLE 1: MAJOR ELEMENTS OF SERVER TRAINING LAWS

State

Voluntary or Mandatory

Applies to Permittees, Servers, or Both

On, Off, or Both

Curric. in Law

Certificate Terms

Incentive

Citation

Alabama

Voluntary

Both

Both

Yes

Annually, for sellers

Certification mitigates administrative penalties

Ala. Code 28-10-1

Alaska

Mandatory

Both

Both

No

   

Alaska Stat. . 04. 21. 025

Arkansas

Voluntary

Both

Both

Yes

 

Certification mitigates administrative penalties

Ark. Code Ann. 3-4-801

Delaware

Mandatory

Both

Both

Yes

Four years

 

Del. Code Ann. T. 4 1201

Florida

Voluntary

Both, exempts large grocery stores

Both

Yes

 

Certification mitigates administrative penalties

Fla. Stat. 561. 701

Indiana

Voluntary

Servers

Both

Yes

 

Prosecutors can consider

905 IAC 1-12. 5

Louisiana

Voluntary

Servers

Both

Yes

Cert. Is transportable

Certification mitigates administrative penalties

La. Rev. Stat. 931

Maine

Voluntary

 

Both

Yes

   

Me. Rev. Stat. T. 28A 2501

Maryland

Mandatory

Both

Both

Yes

4 years

 

Md. Code Alco. Bev. 13-101

Michigan

Voluntary

Both

On

Yes

 

Insurers are required to give liquor liability discounts based on completion of a server training course

Mich. Comp. Laws 436. 1501

New Hampshire

Mandatory

Permittees

Both

     

N. H. Stat. 178: 2

New Jersey

Mandatory

Both

Both

     

N. J. Rev. 33: 1-12. 44

New Mexico

Mandatory

Both

Both

Yes

5 years, transportable

Servers are subject to suspension or revocation of permit for serving minors

N. M. Stat. 60-6E-1

Oregon

Voluntary

       

Immunity for selling to minors

Or. Rev. Stat. 471. 344

Pennsylvania

Voluntary

Both

Both

 

2 years

 

47 P. S. 4-471. 1

Rhode Island

Mandatory

Servers

On

     

R. I. Gen. Laws 3-7-14. 2

Tennessee

Mandatory

Servers

       

Tenn. Code Ann. 57-3-701

Texas

Voluntary

Servers

Both

   

Immunity against administrative penalties for selling to a minor

Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. 106. 13

Utah

Mandatory

Both

Both

Yes

   

Utah Code Ann. 32A-1-401

Washington

Mandatory, exempts groceries

Managers and servers

On

Yes

transportable

 

Wash. Rev. Code 66. 20. 210

Wisconsin

Mandatory

Permittees

Both

 

2 years, transportable

 

Wis. Stat. 125. 17

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