Proposed Bill Would Help Servers To Set Limits On Customers’ Alcohol Consumption

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – New legislation is being served up at bars statewide that would make it mandatory for anyone who serves alcohol to take a course to help identify customers who may be drinking too much and intervene.

The bill is known as the Responsible Intervention for Beverage Servers Training Act. Right now, most server training courses are voluntary. But is a law really necessary?

Eighteen states already require servers to complete alcohol training courses.

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We talked to local bartenders and business owners to see what they think of the proposal. Many told us the bill would add some needed structure to the job, but others believe this all comes down to using common sense.

“There was the initial mumble and grumble about it, ‘oh no, I have to do more training,’ but at the end of the day, it’s for everybody’s safety and the customers and the people behind the bar, at the door, the girls at the table, it just makes sense,” said Jeff Dascher, head bartender at Sacramento’s Shady Lady Saloon.

Assembly bill 2121 would require any establishment that serves alcohol to certify that its employees have completed “responsible interventions for beverage servers” training. It’s legislation aimed at cutting down on those being over-served, DUIs and alcohol-related deaths.

“It’s common sense to me. That you know looking at someone – we’ve all been in that situation – where you see someone clearly who’s had too much alcohol and being able to cut them off,” said Kristin Heidelbach.

Servers would have three months to complete the training after they’re hired and must take a refresher course every three years.

“With the students here, we try to emphasize that you want to pay attention to changes,” said Sam Hubbard, an instructor at the Sacramento School of Bartending.

Hubbard has been teaching at the school for five years and says the biggest challenge is tracking behavioral changes in the people being served. He believes this proposal has the potential to save lives.

“This may be somebody’s worst night of their life, where they screw everything up and you’re the person who could’ve maybe helped change that,” said Hubbard.

But the idea isn’t going down smooth for everyone.

“I don’t think that’s a good use of dollars because I think anyone with common sense can kind of tell if someone has had too much to drink,” said former bartender Blythe Menze.

While Menze thinks most servers know the legal ramifications of over-serving, she says there are some who can push it.

“I’ve definitely seen someone bartend and serve someone they shouldn’t because…of profitability for the tip or whatever. But it is really difficult sometimes to say no to people,” said Menze.

The new measure could soon make saying no a clear-cut decision.

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