Bill would require servers to undergo alcohol training

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Robert "Bubba" DeFinnis, the front of the house manager at Pier 14, said he thinks mandatory certification to serve alcohol should be a requirement by state law.

That could soon be a reality here in the Palmetto State.

"When you're new you relate back to your experience at the bar," said DeFinnis, who has his own alcohol server certification from the state of Pennsylvania. "I still got my coverage until June of '18. I think every state should have it."

The bill, which already passed the Senate and is currently in the House, would make it a requirement for anyone serving alcohol to become certified and go through training programs within 60 days of being hired somewhere.

The bill says penalties and fines could be associated with any violation of the training act.

According to the bill, "The administrative penalties are tiered depending on the number of prior offenses. The penalties range from a fine of not more than $50, or the suspension of the server certificate for a period of not more than 30 days, or both, for a first offense, to a fine of not more than $350, or suspension of the certificate for not more than a year, or both, for a second or subsequent offense."

Sen. Luke Rankin is a sponsor of the bill. He said the goal of the legislation is to address the high death rate in South Carolina from felony DUI charges.

Rankin said having an on-premise liquor license is a privilege and those serving should become educated on how to serve alcohol responsibly.

According to the senator, 26 other states have laws related to mandatory alcohol training.

Not all employees at Pier 14 think this will help servers learn.

A bartender for 30 years, Christopher Bean said he was required to get his certification in Las Vegas when he worked there but it didn't teach him much.

"Every restaurant is different. All the drinks are different," said Bean. "Train them right, give them a few weeks, throw them to the wolves."

Regardless, when it comes to training at Pier 14, DeFinnis says although it's currently not required by the state, the restaurant makes sure they're bringing in people with experience.

"We've had bartenders that have been here for a while such as Steve the bar manager, which has been here nine years; Brenda, 11 years; and Amanda. They're the three shelves to the restaurant. The new people that have just been hired have close to 40 years of experience," said DeFinnis.

However, DeFinnis said sometimes time means nothing.

"Somebody says to me sometimes that 'I've been doing this 23 years' and I look at them and say, 'Maybe you've been doing it wrong for 23 years,'" he said.

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