Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about ABC’s Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training Program.

Is RBS training mandatory and do I need a certificate to serve alcohol in California?

RBS training under the requirements of CA Assembly Bill 1221 will become mandatory on July 1, 2021.  This new state mandate will require certain alcoholic beverage servers and their managers to successfully complete an ABC approved RBS training program and exam no later than August 31, 2021.  

Currently, RBS training is only required if your local government mandates it.  If you are required to take an RBS class for employment, contact your employer or local governing body to inquire if there is a specific training provider you must use.

Local jurisdictions may require you to attend an ABC Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) class and receive a LEAD Certificate of Completion.  If  you are required to attend a LEAD class, you can register for the Online LEAD training or an Instructor-led class presented by an ABC LEAD trainer.

Who must be trained under AB 1221?

Beginning in July 2021, any ABC licensee who has an “ABC On-Premises License” will need to have their staff (alcohol servers and managers of alcohol servers) trained and certified in RBS within sixty (60) days of employment.  This includes but is not limited to: restaurants, bars, fast casual dining, tasting rooms (including off-sale locations), hotels, and stadiums.

“ABC On-Premises License” means an ABC license that grants the privilege to serve alcoholic drinks to patrons who then consume them within the licensed premises.

Does AB 1221 apply to entities obtaining daily licenses?

Yes.  For events under a daily license, at least one person working the event is required to be RBS trained and certified.  The person(s) identified on the one-day application as being RBS trained and certified must remain on-site during the duration of the event.  Additionally, the RBS trained and certified person(s) must actively monitor the service of alcoholic beverages to guests at the event and have created policies for the event that mandate and foster responsible alcoholic beverage service.

What is the definition of an alcohol server under AB 1221?

An alcohol server, as defined under AB 1221 includes anyone who does any of the following: (1) checks customer identification for purposes of alcoholic beverage service or entry to an ABC on-premises licensed establishment, (2) takes customer alcoholic beverage orders, (3) pours alcoholic beverages for customers, or (4) delivers alcoholic beverages to customers.

What is the definition of an alcohol manager under AB 1221?

A manager means any person who trains, hires, or oversees alcohol servers at an ABC on-premises licensed establishment, or any person who makes policy or operational decisions about how alcohol service is performed at an ABC on-premises licensed establishment, including but not limited to; when to check identification and when to refuse service to a customer.

I recently completed a responsible beverage service training course. Do I still need to take another training course and pass an exam in order to be certified after July 1, 2021?

Yes.  None of the responsible beverage service training providers currently offering services in CA are ABC approved for the upcoming statewide mandate.

What is the difference between RBS and LEAD?

Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training educates people seeking employment or those who are currently employed as servers of alcoholic beverages.  It provides servers with the necessary knowledge and skills to responsibly serve alcoholic beverages to avoid causing alcohol-related harm to their communities.

Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) is ABC’s free voluntary prevention and education program for all licensees and their employees. LEAD provides practical information on serving alcoholic beverages safely, responsibly, and legally, as well as ways to prevent illicit drug activity at a licensed establishment.  

Although some local governments currently require servers working in their jurisdictions to attend a LEAD course, the ABC LEAD program will not fulfill the requirements mandated by AB 1221 and will not qualify as an ABC approved RBS Training when the new training mandate goes into effect in 2021.

Where can I find approved RBS training providers?

ABC is not currently approving RBS Training Programs nor recognizing any existing RBS Training Programs as being compliant with the AB 1221 curriculum requirements.  ABC anticipates having AB 1221 compliant RBS Training Providers and courses available in Fall of 2020. 

If you are required to take an RBS class for employment, contact your employer or local governing body to inquire about RBS Training, or conduct an internet search for RBS Training Providers.

How do I become a Training Provider for RBS?

ABC is not currently approving RBS Training Programs or Providers.  However, ABC anticipates accepting applications for AB 1221 compliant RBS Training Programs in early 2020.  To receive updates and announcements regarding the RBS Training Program, please subscribe to our mailing list.

I was previously on ABC’s Approved RBS Trainer List; do I need to reapply to become an RBS training provider under AB 1221?

Yes.  All persons interested in becoming an RBS Training Provider under AB 1221 will need to file an application with ABC.  This includes those previously approved by ABC in the past. Applications will be accepted beginning in early 2020.

To receive updates and announcements regarding the RBS Training Program, please sign up on our mailing list.

If I am currently offering RBS training programs, does ABC want me to stop offering training?

No.  ABC encourages the continued practice of offering RBS training programs in California.  However, to qualify as an ABC approved RBS trainer in California in 2021, you will need to apply to become certified by ABC and have your program approved under the AB 1221 guidelines.  Applications will be accepted beginning in early 2020.

As an ABC On-Premises Licensee, what are the important dates that I need to know to be in compliance with the new law?

ABC approved RBS training and certification will be mandatory for alcohol servers and their managers beginning July 1, 2021.

ABC On-Premises Licensees have sixty (60) days from July 1, 2021 to have their staff trained and certified by an approved RBS training provider.  This includes the successful completion of an ABC administered RBS exam.

Enforcement of AB 1221 will begin September 1, 2021.

What are the regulations pertaining to RBS?

The regulations are being written now and will be in the ABC Act under Article 25, sections 160-173. Regulations should be finalized by January 2020.  Interested parties may request a copy of the current draft regulations by emailing