Skillsoft Blog

The Regulated World of Alcohol Beverages

By Janiece Attal

If you’ve ever worked in an establishment that sells and serves alcohol, then you’ve probably had to go through some sort of formal training. Just like the world of food safety training, alcohol training is complex and there are many misconceptions about what it means to sell or serve alcohol.

In the United States, there are federal requirements for the production, sale, and distribution of alcohol. State governments have their own regulations in addition to federal ones within their jurisdictions, and with each state’s laws and rules varying one from another, it is easy to become lost in the sea of alcohol regulation.

Every state has its own commission or authority that oversees the training programs and providers. In addition to state requirements, there may be cities, counties, or villages within that state that have additional laws that may be more restrictive than federal and state regulations. For example, in Illinois, the Village of Schaumburg required our state approved Illinois BASSET program to be reviewed and approved to meet their specific requirements, while the Village of Vernon Hills does not allow any online providers of the BASSET program to meet its village requirements.

Alcohol safety training and certification for staff is mandatory in some states and may or may not provide mitigating benefits such as reduced administrative fines or other penalties if an incident occurs. A few of the states require only managers to take an alcohol safety program, but other states require all of the staff from sellers/servers of alcohol to the security and valet parking employees to complete a program.

The majority of the states allow the alcohol safety program to be delivered online while other states require classroom only such as Alaska and Tennessee. To confuse the situation a bit further, some states allow the training portion of the program to be completed online without a proctor, but the exam portion must be proctored like Maryland and Nevada.

By law, in some states, a bar or tavern is known as a dram shop. Traditionally, when alcohol was sold in small portions, it was called a dram. In 30 states, there are statutory provisions referred to as dram shop liability, which allows licensed establishments such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores to be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who subsequently cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication.

The majority of the dram shop liability states limit the liability to situations where the licensed establishment served or sold alcohol to an individual who is under the legal drinking age or an obviously intoxicated person. Each state has its own requirements for dram shop liability, but some states allow the licensed establishment to protect itself from liability provided that they meet specific criteria, which usually includes ensuring all employees who sell or serve alcohol complete a state approved alcohol safety training program. This is why many of these establishments place such a high value on providing efficient and effective training.

By ensuring that employees are properly trained, managers and owners can be confident that servers understand the laws and know how to identify signs of intoxication, spot a fake ID, or handle problem situations. Skillsoft provides state approved alcohol safety programs that cover topics on the serving and selling of alcohol within a licensed establishment. We work with subject matter experts to keep our content up-to-date with the ever changing laws.

To learn more or purchase our alcohol training, including individual licenses, visit our newly update store front:

And for more information about Skillsoft Global Compliance Solutions, visit us here:

Janiece Attal, Esq.  is the Solution Manager of Food and Alcohol Services.

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