About 50% of DUI offenders report that the last place they drank an alcoholic beverage was at a local bar or restaurant, and higher rates of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and violence occur in communities with higher densities of licensed on-premises establishments such as bars and restaurants. Studies in various locations across the U.S. also consistently show high rates of alcohol service to pseudo-intoxicated patrons at bars. To address these continuing public health problems, California enacted the Responsible Beverage Service Training Act in 2017 to decrease the over-service of alcohol to intoxicated patrons at licensed on- premises establishments. Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) refers to the steps that servers of alcoholic beverages can take to reduce the chances that their patrons (or guests) become intoxicated, or failing that, to intervene so as to reduce the risk of subsequent harm to the patron or others. The primary mechanism to encourage responsible service has been some form of staff or manager training. Typically, such training includes the laws that govern serving behavior, the effects of alcohol on the body, recognizing signs of intoxication, and strategies for refusing service to someone who displays those signs. One might suppose that RBS training would be an effective prevention strategy, but evaluation results have been mixed. The California RBS Training Act mandates training for all alcohol servers beginning in 2021 giving us a rare opportunity to look more closely at how a statewide RBS training initiative might influence server behavior. The proposed research will include a replication of an evaluation of the mandatory statewide RBS training law implemented in Oregon, as well as a randomized trial in which an online RBS training program known to be effective will be used as a ?benchmark? against which a comparison group of ?usual and customary? practices will be measured for the efficacy of their training.
The specific aims are: (1) To evaluate the impact of mandatory server training on alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in California; and (2) To evaluate the efficacy of ?usual and customary? training when compared to an online training known to be effective (WayToServe) on the likelihood of refusals to pseudo-patrons; (3) To conduct a state-wide survey of owners/managers of alcohol outlets that will help identify obstacles or facilitators of the new server training law. This study will determine whether the statewide mandate is sufficient to reduce alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, whether ?usual and customary? practices and training will match the efficacy of a high-quality online RBS training program in improving alcohol serving behavior.

Public Health Relevance

This study will determine whether the California responsible beverage service (RBS) training law has an impact on alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, and whether ?usual and customary? training will match the efficacy of an online WaytoServe RBS training program in reducing over-service of alcohol to apparently-intoxicated pseudopatrons at licensed on-premises establishments such as bars and restaurants. This study will also conduct a state-wide survey of owners and managers of alcohol outlets to identify barriers and facilitators to their compliance with the new law and its intended effects for improving server behavior. Findings of this study will have implications for state and local regulatory policies regarding RBS training, and for future research on the effectiveness of RBS training.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Community Influences on Health Behavior Study Section (CIHB)
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Bloss, Gregory
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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
United States
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