If you work in the food service industry in Cook County, Illinois, and any part of your job entails selling or serving alcohol, Illinois House Bill 5926 is changing the game. Familiarizing yourself with the new requirements will help protect you and those for whom you work.
This bill was passed into law on July 1, 2015, and was created to regulate the Illinois BASSET certification more closely. BASSET is an acronym for Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training. Compliance with the new regulations is intended to help prevent the serving of minors and the occurrence of accidents and lawsuits for food service establishments as a result of overly intoxicated patrons.
What is Illinois HB 5926?
The new law mandates that servers in Cook County to complete the Illinois BASSET training by July 1, 2015, or within 120 days of employment. They, also, should have a certificate as proof of taking the training. Other Illinois counties are required to complete their training on either July 1, 2016, July 1, 2017, or July 1, 2018, depending on when they are scheduled. HB 5926, also, more closely regulates who qualifies to provide a BASSET license; in layman’s terms:
- All existing BASSET trainers must be recertified to provide instruction by the Liquor Control Commission.
- All training materials and methods used must first be approved by the Commission according to specific criteria.
- The process to verify a certification must be accessible 24/7.
BASSET Training Criteria
Servers who report for the new training will graduate from the program with the following skills:
- The ability to calculate blood alcohol level as it pertains to the number and type of beverages consumed
- The ability to recognize an overly intoxicated patron
- The knowledge that he or she has the right to refuse service to a patron who is drinking irresponsibly
- The ability to recognize fake identification
- The skills needed to refuse service in a tactful manner
- A comprehensive understanding of the seller’s moral and social obligations
- An understanding of the effects of mixing drug and alcohol use
- The ability to recognize second-party sales
Classes must be at least four hours in length. Illinois BASSET certification must be renewed every three years, and training must be available in both Spanish and English. Anyone graduating from the course must pass a BASSET test to receive a certification which then belongs to them and is transferable from employer to employer. That certification must come from a commission-approved training facility and must be verifiable.
Who Does This Affect?
Initially, Illinois HB 5926 was targeted at all volunteers and employees who serve alcohol in Illinois, including those working at tastings and charity events. After several amendments, however, the scope was narrowed to include only food and beverage servers, and bouncers in Cook County and to exempt the two previously mentioned groups.
Cook County servers were targeted because this county is the second largest in the entire United States and includes nearly 8,000 licensed liquor retailers. Under the new regulations, accidental sales to minors and incidents stemming from overly intoxicated patrons are expected to decrease.
Good and Bad News for Alcohol Sellers
The signing of Illinois HB 5926 is both good and bad news for those who sell alcohol: Good, because properly trained servers should help cut down on service to minors and on liability stemming from intoxicated patrons. But it presents a challenge to sellers who abide by compliance in a field that has a notoriously high turnover rate.
If you sell or serve alcohol in Cook County, Illinois, compliance with the new regulations is mandatory. The sooner you familiarize yourself with them, the better prepared you’ll be. Commission-approved BASSET training is available here.