Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) or server training programs have two goals: (1) to establish policies and procedures in retail alcohol outlets for preventing alcohol sales and service to minors and intoxicated persons; and (2) to train managers and servers/clerks to implement those policies and procedures effectively. Server/clerk training focuses on serving and selling procedures, signs of intoxication, methods for checking age identification, and intervention techniques. Manager training includes the server/clerk training as well as policy and procedures development and staff supervision.
Experimental RBS programs first appeared in the early 1980s. States with RBS provisions have either mandatory programs or incentive-based voluntary programs. Voluntary, private programs exist to varying degrees in the other States, but those States do not have provisions that provide statewide structure for the design and implementation of these programs.
A program is designated as mandatory if State law requires at least some alcohol retail employees to attend an RBS training. Thirteen States require some type of RBS training, but these States vary widely in who must participate:
The 11 States that have established voluntary programs provide incentives for retailers to participate in RBS, but do not impose penalties for those who don't. Incentives vary by State and include (1) a defense in dram shop liability lawsuits; (2) mitigation of fines for sales to minors or intoxicated persons; (3) discounts in dram shop liability insurance; and (4) protection against revocation of a license for sales to minors or intoxicated persons.
Whether mandatory or voluntary, RBS programs vary in training curricula components; procedures for administering the program; certificate requirements for RBS trainers, servers/clerks, and managers; penalties for violations; and enforcement practices. These variables may have a dramatic impact on the program's effectiveness in reducing sales to minors and intoxicated persons.
The following variables pertain to mandatory provisions:
The variables that pertain to voluntary incentives are as follows: