Montana News

Sep 20, 2012 2:29 PM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News

Alcohol server training aims to reduce underage drinking, curb DUI

HELENA- It used to be that bartenders could serve drinks without being certified sellers, but Montana law now requires all alcohol servers to attend a mandatory 4-hour training session.

The seller/server training course teaches them their responsibilities and liabilities when serving customers. They not only learn about limits and amounts, but how to avoid sales to intoxicated customers.

"Indications on impairment, whether it's the eyes or people's behavior, types of drink. Every drink is a little bit different," Andrew Knapp of the Lewis & Clark County DUI Task Force noted.

The training sessions are conducted statewide to those who bartend, or who sell alcohol at stores.

It's a way to ensure that alcohol isn't being sold to minors.

"To make sure we're keeping the kids safe, keeping alcohol out of their hands," trainer Tracie Kiesel said.

While the legal age to drink is set at 21, the legal age for gambling is only 18, so casino attendants who serve drinks must be especially careful not to serve underage clients.

"A person's brain isn't fully developed until they are 25. And so they don't have the ability to make some decisions appropriately. And when you throw alcohol into the mix it really affects them differently," Kiesel explained.

Businesses whose employees serve to minors can also lose their license to sell. During a recent sting, a CVS pharmacy in Helena violated the law four times, losing its privileges for six months.

Besides learning how to check ID's, the class learns about civil liability by watching graphic videos about what can happen if an intoxicated driver causes injury.

All bartenders or alcohol servers must take the course within 60 days of hire.

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