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Local servers may be required to undergo new alcohol certification

The program is designed to help spot fake IDs and avoid over-intoxication.

Heather Finn/Graphic Designer

Sept. 24, 2012

Servers in local bars and restaurants will soon be required to carry a special badge to handle alcohol, if a proposed ordinance has its way.

"The intended purpose (of server training) is to further reduce the sale of alcohol to minors and over-intoxicated persons,” Steve Hollis, Human Services Manager for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, said in an email.

Columbia's Substance Abuse Advisory Commission is proposing a new ordinance that would require all persons serving alcohol to obtain a server certificate.

The Columbia City Council will receive this proposal at a public hearing 7 p.m. Thursday at the Department of Public Health and Human Services. The purpose of the meeting is to solicit public comment before the commission submits the draft ordinance to the city council.

Hollis also said the commission first received permission from City Council to begin drafting a serving training ordinance in March 2011.

The server ordinance would require all servers of alcohol — defined as any person directly involved in the retail sale, service, delivery or dispensing of alcoholic beverages — to complete the State of Missouri Alcohol Responsibility Training program.

SMART is a Web-based program designed for all sellers and servers of alcohol that intends to reduce alcohol-related problems occurring at the point of sale, according to the commission’s public hearing flier.

Successful completion of the program satisfies the requirements and would warrant a server certificate from the Department of Public Health and Human Services. This requirement would also extend to anyone taking orders for, accepting payment for, mixing or serving any alcoholic beverage.

The SMART server training program is a self-directed, interactive, online course that typically takes about 45 minutes to complete, Hollis said.

After completing the program, the server must fill out an application and provide proof of program completion to obtain a server certificate. Currently, there is a proposed $5 fee for each certificate, new or renewed, and a $5 fee for each additional requested copy. The proposed fee would be waived if the server obtains the certificate along with a food handler's permit. The certificate is valid for three years from the date of issuance.

"One evidence-based approach to help lower the incidence of binge and underage drinking in communities is the use of server training," the commission's informational flier stated.

If effective in its goal to lower the incidences of both binge and underage drinking, the ordinance could have an effect seen by students at MU.

The Wellness Resource Center supports the mission of the proposed ordinance, said Kim Dude, Wellness Resource Center director and MU appointee to the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission.

“The ordinance will train servers of alcohol on how to better check for fake IDs and how to not serve to already intoxicated people,” Dude said in an email. “People who serve alcohol should be trained on how to do their job safely and in accordance with the law.”

The ordinance might directly impact MU students, Dude said.

“It could decrease the number of students who drink to the point of intoxication and who are served when they are underage,” Dude said.

Abuse of alcohol, both on and off campus, ties into problems the Wellness Resource Center aims to remedy through a variety of initiatives. Passing of the server training ordinance would assist these initiatives.

“The goal of the Wellness Resource Center is to educate students who drink to do so in moderation,” Dude said. “It is very helpful to have the environment in which they drink help in that effort.”

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