Restaurants often make the most profit from serving alcohol, but it’s a high risk/ high reward sort of situation. You don’t want your establishment to get into trouble for serving alcohol to minors or causing car accidents. You also don’t want to deal with the downside of intoxicated guests. Knowing this, a company called Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPS, set up a certification program to teach employees of most liquor license holders to deal with those risks.

The 35-year old program covers the legal responsibilities of establishments, the effects of alcohol on people, and various customer-friendly ways to provide alcohol service in a responsible manner. It covers identifying IDs and intoxication. It also gives you a chance to practice some ways of dealing with real-life scenarios.

There are quite a few states, such as Maryland and New Mexico, that require liquor licensees have someone associated with that license trained in responsible alcohol serving and have a certificate from that training. That said, not all municipalities have this requirement, and some places, such as Texas and Maine, have voluntary programs. It can come down to the personal preference of an owner in other municipalities, such as much of California.

Keeping customers from getting intoxicated keeps your place of business comfortable for all your guests and shows that you care about their safety.

There are a couple of benefits of taking the TIPS or similar training programs. Your employees will gain confidence in dealing with intoxicated guests. They will have some ideas about how to control the environment so that the drinking doesn’t get out of hand. Keeping customers from getting intoxicated keeps your place of business comfortable for all your guests and shows that you care about their safety.

It is always good to have refreshers about the rules involved in serving alcohol. There are a few kinds of liabilities that could apply to your establishment, and they vary from location to location. Does your city have social host laws, where you can be held liable for injury to an intoxicated guest if the alcohol is served improperly? Is there criminal charges you could be liable to? You want to keep track of these types of rules. They change sometimes, and the people evading the rules evolve their techniques. Having employees at least occasionally take courses in responsible alcohol service can keep you on the safe side of the law. Should something untoward happen to an intoxicated customer or a minor trying to get drinks, you can point to the program as a sign that you had done your due diligence, as well.

Having employees at least occasionally take courses in responsible alcohol service can keep you on the safe side of the law.

There are also insurance companies that give you discounts for having such a training program in place, and having a nationally-recognized certificate is an easy way to prove that your restaurant has an acceptably trained staff. Insurance companies like to know that at least one threat to the property is being controlled for.

All that said, TIPS charges $40 a person for online training, and they charge varying amounts for on site and off site classes, depending on location and trainer. Other programs will also charge you. You don’t want to be accused of cutting corners here, but at the same time, it’s a cost you have to weigh up.

Additionally, some places, such as Washington, have requirements for trainers and for responsible alcohol service training. Always check ahead of time to see if your municipality requires training and what type of certification they will accept. Many places let cities or counties decide on what they want, and they can be pretty restrictive. You don’t want to download the eTIPS program and later discover that your state doesn’t accept online certifications.

As you can see, whether you need to get someone TIPS certified will depend on your jurisdiction and your establishment’s needs. Keep the foregoing in mind, and you will be able to make an informed decision.

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