ServSafe Alcohol Study Guide

ServSafe Alcohol Study Guide

In this article we will provide you with the fullest ServSafe Alcohol Study Guide which will definitely help you well prepare for your examination.

January 1, 2022

Looking to ace your ServSafe Alcohol certification exam? Look no further! Our comprehensive study guide provides all the essential information you need to succeed. From alcohol laws and responsibilities to effective strategies for preventing intoxication, ServSafe-Prep covers it all in this guide. Start studying today and take your career to new heights!

General Information

This study guide explains everything you need to know whether you’re taking the ServSafe Alcohol Primary or Advanced test. Both tests are multiple-choice only, and they may be taken after you’ve completed the ServSafe Alcohol training. Both examinations address four major aspects of the alcohol service industry:

  • legislation concerning alcoholic beverages
  • intoxication
  • confirming your identity
  • dealing with difficult situations

The duration and needed depth of knowledge are the primary variations between the examinations. Here’s how the two exams compare:

ServSafe alcohol primary

  • Number of questions: 40
  • Proctor required: no
  • Basic information acquired straight from the course material was put to the exam.
  • Passing score: 75%

ServSafe alcohol advanced

  • Number of questions: 70
  • Proctor required: yes
  • Level of information examined: both within and outside of course material; covers the whole field of alcohol service, with numerous “situational” questions
  • Passing score: 80%

How to study for either test

Because the Advanced test covers both basic and more difficult questions, success on either the Primary or Advanced test will need a strong understanding of the most basic information and the ability to apply it in questions. So, before taking either test, make sure you understand the basics.

This study guide covers a wide range of topics, from the most fundamental to the most complex. Our ServSafe Alcohol Exam Practice Questions contains 40 questions (the first 40) that may appear on the Primary test and another 30 questions that may appear on the Advanced test.

ServSafe Alcohol Study Guide
ServSafe Alcohol Study Guide

>>> Read More: ServSafe Allergen study guide 

ServSafe Alcohol Laws

Alcohol sales may be a profitable aspect of the food service and hospitality sector, but providing alcohol necessitates a thorough understanding of the server’s role, alcohol regulations, and the many expenses that poor service can incur.

1. The costs of irresponsible alcohol service

The consequences of reckless alcohol delivery include both direct physical harm and the business itself. It’s critical for you to understand how incorrect alcohol service may damage your clients, your business, and yourself as a server.

  • Human Costs: Irresponsible alcohol serving can cause both minor and major bodily damage. In the worst-case situation, negligent service might end in death.
  • Legal Costs: Fines, lawsuits, and criminal charges may be levied on your establishment. The owner, managers, and employees are all affected by these legal costs.
  • Business Costs: The financial advantage of an establishment might be affected by irresponsible alcohol service. It’s possible that your liquor license will be temporarily suspended or revoked permanently. After a drop in clients, your income may drop. Your insurance prices may rise, and obtaining insurance for your business may become more difficult.
  • Liability: Personal liability exists in addition to the human, business, and legal consequences of unlawfully providing alcohol. Breaking liquor rules might result in liability, which means that the person who provides the alcohol is legally responsible for what they do or doesn’t do if and when an incident occurs. Criminal, civil, and administrative responsibilities are all included.

2. Alcohol service laws

Liquor regulations differ from one state to the next. Laws in towns, cities, and counties differ as well and are frequently stricter than state laws. You must become familiar with the laws that relate to you and your establishment, as well as how they work.

  • Prevention of underage drinking: In most states, it is unlawful to acquire, possess, or drink alcohol if you are under the age of 21, and it is also prohibited to sell or provide alcohol to anybody under the age of 21.
  • Serving intoxicated patrons:
    • Some states have regulations prohibiting establishments and servers from providing alcohol to customers who are visibly intoxicated
    • Most of these regulations state that anybody engaged, such as a customer who serves an intoxicated patron a drink, can be held responsible. There may be legal consequences for the customer
    • If a known alcoholic is served, several places hold businesses and their employees responsible.
  • Illegal activities: If you do any of the following, you may be held liable:
    • You enable gambling, prostitution, or other lewd behavior on purpose
    • You permit drinking games and competitions. Beer pong and quarters, for example, are prohibited in most states because they contribute to intoxication
    • In your establishment, you permit the possession, sale, or use of illegal drugs.
  • Discrimination: If you discriminate against consumers based on race, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or creed, you may be held responsible under state laws. It’s illegal to reject service to a pregnant woman since it’s deemed gender discrimination.

Alcohol Intoxication

Understanding how alcohol affects people biologically aids a server in determining the amount of intoxication of a customer. Other factors might influence an individual’s level of intoxication.

1. Alcohol and the Body

Beverage alcohol, often known as ethanol, is a kind of alcohol that is produced by fermentation and subsequently distilled.

  • Fermentation is the process by which yeast breaks down plants (such as berries or fruits) or grains (such as barley) to generate ethanol. Fermentation is what gives beer and wine their flavor.
  • Distillation is the process of distilling fermentations. This eliminates the water from the alcohol, making it stronger. Distilled spirits include vodka and whiskey.

Alcohol Strength

  • Proof indicates strength to discover how much alcohol a liquor contains, divide the proof by two. A 100 proof bottle of whiskey, for example, contains 50% alcohol.
  • ABV (Alcohol by Volume): The amount of alcohol in a drink is called ABV (Alcohol by Volume). A bottle of vodka with an ABV of 40%, for example, implies that 40% of the liquid in the bottle contains alcohol. The ABV of distilled spirits typically ranges from 20% for liqueurs and schnapps to 40% or more for spirits (vodka, whiskey, rum).

In the United States, wine typically has an ABV of 12-14 percent; however, certain varieties of wine contain distilled spirits and may have a higher ABV than normal.

Beer typically has an ABV of 4-6 percent, however, some craft brews have ABVs of 2.5-15 percent.

Alcohol in the Body

Alcohol moves through the body in a similar way as food. Alcohol, on the other hand, does not need to be digested before being taken into the bloodstream.

The Body’s Effects

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows or stops brain function. The areas of the brain that process major motor abilities, coordination, memory, and judgment get impaired as a client drinks. These brain areas don’t operate normally once they’ve been harmed by alcohol. Routine actions, such as driving, become risky as a result.

Blood Alcohol Content

The BAC (Blood Alcohol Content or Blood Alcohol Concentration) test detects the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. The percentage of alcohol in a person’s blood is referred to as BAC. According to research, a BAC of.08 has a significant influence on motor abilities. As of 2017, all 50 states believe that the legal driving intoxicated limit should be.08.

2. Intoxication Level

When you see one or more intoxication factors in a customer, you should keep an eye on them to avoid over-serving. Customers should be observed from the moment they sit down (to provide you with a reference point) until they leave (to watch for behavioral changes). Servers should understand how to determine a customer’s level of intoxication since responsibility begins with the first drink and continues long after the consumer has left. It is your obligation to notify management and appropriate staff, as well as to end service if you are worried at any moment.

Counting Drinks

Counting drinks is a way of keeping track of one’s level of drunkenness. To correctly count drinks, you must first understand what constitutes one drink.

  • Equivalent Drinks

The amount of alcohol in one standard drink varies based on the kind of alcohol, however, it includes the following:

5 oz. of wine (12% ABV)

12 oz. of beer (5% ABV)

1.5 oz. of 80-proof liquor (40% ABV)

1 oz. of 100-proof liquor (50% ABV

  • Calculating Drinks

The number of drinks in a beverage is equal to the quantity of liquor in one standard drink divided by the amount of liquor in one drink, for example:

In a normal drink, 3 oz. of 80-proof scotch divided by 1.5 oz. of 80-proof liquor equals 2 drinks.

Your customer received two regular cocktails instead of the 3 oz. the tumbler of 80-proof scotch they wanted.

  • Mixed Drinks

Because mixed cocktails typically include various liquors with varying ABVs, calculating them might be difficult, but most places provide estimates for each drink they serve. When counting drinks, it’s a good idea to round up just to be safe.

Estimating Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)

When determining whether or not to continue serving a customer, estimating BAC is helpful. Count how many standard drinks a client has had, predict their weight, then use a BAC chart like the one given below to estimate their BAC:


Estimating Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)
Estimating Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)
Estimating Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)
Estimating Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)


Limits to BAC Chart Use

Although the BAC chart estimates are very accurate, the actual BAC of a client may be greater or lower than the chart indicates. Prior drinking, physical condition, mental state, and drugs taken are all unknown variables that impact a customer’s BAC, therefore BAC charts should only be used as a guide.

3. Tracking Drink Counts

You’ll need to know how many drinks a consumer has consumed to estimate their BAC more precisely. You can keep track of your clients by keeping track of their beverages.

4. Observing Guests

Changes in voice volume, emotion, or balance should be noticed in customers. When you speak with each client, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Their restraints are released (they become overly friendly, unfriendly, depressed, or quiet; they become loud, make rude comments, or use foul language)
  • Their judgment deteriorates (they begin complaining about drink strength, begin drinking faster or switch to larger or stronger drinks, make irrational or argumentative statements, or become careless with money)
  • Their reaction time becomes slower (they talk or move slowly, lose concentration, train of thought, or become forgetful; they become drowsy, glassy-eyed, or unable to keep focus and keep eye contact)
  • Their coordination deteriorates (they stagger, stumble, fall, bump into things, sway when moving, drop things or are unable to pick things up, spill drinks or miss their mouth, or slur their speech)。

Keep in mind that experienced drinkers can consume a large amount of alcohol and exhibit no signs of intoxication, yet tolerance to alcohol has no effect on a person’s BAC. Even a little amount of alcohol might cause symptoms in inexperienced drinkers.

5. Preventing Intoxication

Preventing your clients from being intoxicated is the most essential thing you can do in the alcohol service sector. Although it might be difficult, there are subtle methods to avoid drunkenness while still providing excellent service.

Things to Offer Guests

  • Keep water glasses full and offer clients water (to keep them hydrated and possibly reduce the amount of alcohol they drink)
  • Offer them high-fat or high-protein food. Salty and carbohydrate-rich foods should be avoided.
  • As an alternative, provide nonalcoholic drinks (to keep consumers interested).

Liquor Measurement

Overpouring is avoided by correctly measuring drinks, which avoids drunkenness. Jiggers (which measure alcohol in ounces), mechanical pour spouts (which control how quickly the alcohol flows), and technology-enabled pour spouts that connect to your point-of-sale (POS) system all aid in the measurement and management of drinks. If you are needed to pour, you should be adequately educated by management in order to pour accurately, and your accuracy should be evaluated on a regular basis using a pour test.

Drink Limits

Drink limits are used by certain businesses to slow down drinking, which helps to decrease intoxication. For instance, your restaurant may set a limit of two beverages per person every hour.

What Identification Is Needed For Alcohol Service?

Fake IDs can appear legitimate, and clients may not appear their age, therefore it’s crucial to double-check identity. Keep in mind that you may be held liable.

When to Check IDs

Follow your establishment’s standards and local laws to guarantee you never serve anybody under the age of 21. You may need to examine a customer’s identification if they appear to be older than 21 but less than 30. If in doubt, double-check, even if the customer has already been checked by another member of staff. Never serve or allow someone under the age of 21 to serve you. It’s possible that you’ll be held accountable. If a customer under the age of 21 attempts to be served, notify management and staff immediately since it is everyone’s responsibility to guarantee that an underage consumer is never served.

How to Check IDs

Make sure an ID is appropriate before allowing it. Then double-check that it’s real, that it hasn’t been altered with or falsified, that the client is of legal age, and that the ID being supplied belongs to the customer. There are detailed instructions for each of these steps.

Hold the ID

Request that the ID be taken away so that you may inspect both sides and feel the ID for validity. If the consumer inquires as to why, politely explain that it is your policy.

Know Acceptable Types

Once you have the ID in your hands, double-check that it is valid evidence of age. Some businesses refuse to accept out-of-state driver’s licenses, while others do. Most states recognize state ID cards, passports, military IDs, and driver’s licenses as forms of identification. It is not allowed to present a school ID or a birth certificate.

Check Validity

A valid ID must contain a photo to establish that the person who presented it owns it, a current date (that is not expired), the owner’s birthdate to ascertain their age, and the owner’s signature.

Check for Alterations

To recognize a forged ID, you must first understand what a legitimate ID looks like.

Check the Guest’s Age

Some establishments feature signs or calendars with a “born on or before” date, which is quite useful. Calculate by comparing the current date to the calculated date when the consumer turns 21 if their birthday has passed.

Match the ID to the Person

By comparing the ID photo to the individual, make sure the ID corresponds to the person who is displaying it. Examine the features on their faces. Check the ID’s information. If further proof is needed, ask them questions about themselves. If they hesitate, it’s possible that they don’t really own the ID.

Dealing with Fake IDs

If a client shows you a false ID, you could have to refuse them entry, confiscate the ID, or contact the police if your state and local laws or corporate policy demand it. In any event, be courteous and employ some of the communication strategies described in the next 

ID Checking Tools

Always examine the back of any government-issued ID for barcodes, magnetic strips, or both, which include information on the owner..

How To Deal With Difficult Situations

Customers who are intoxicated, potential violence and conflicts, criminal activities, fraudulent or changed IDs, or law enforcement visits are all possibilities. Best practices exist for dealing with these circumstances in a safe and responsible manner.

Safety Basics

Always keep your personal safety in mind, as well as your company’s policies. Personal safety should always come first, so contact the cops if you or others are in danger. Don’t expect a poor situation to become better on its own. When dealing with tough situations, follow your company’s policy as well as local laws.

Intoxicated Guests

When to quit servicing a customer is entirely up to you. When and how you end service can have an impact on the situation’s outcome.

When to Stop Service

Stop serving a customer if they show signs of drunkenness or if you’re concerned about how many drinks they’ve taken.

Procedure to Stop Service

Some employers allow employees to end their work by telling the management, however, most employers require manager approval. Know your company’s policies as well as the laws in your area.

When the client attempts to purchase the next drink, it’s ideal to notify them that their service has finished so they aren’t as unhappy and haven’t had time to develop resentfulness during their previous drink. Take the following steps to be safe:

  • Always notify your manager or another available staff and request assistance
  • Ask members of the drunk client’s party to assist convince them to stop drinking on their own or to keep the customer calm
  • When dealing with an intoxicated customer, be professional and polite
  • Provide the customer with a nonalcoholic beverage or food that slows the absorption of alcohol
  • Notify coworkers that you’ve stopped serving the customer so they can prevent him from drinking more or driving while intoxicated.


The most difficult aspect of terminating service is telling the client, although there are various ways that can aid with this.

  • Judgment

Express facts such as “It’s against the law for me to serve you more,” and explain with facts such as your business policy or regulations. Use “you” words sparingly to avoid provoking debate or offending others.

  • Concern

Instead of saying, “I’m simply doing my job,” show real concern by letting the client know you care. For example, “I want to make sure you get home safely.” You are demonstrating care for the customer’s safety in this manner.

  • Empathy

Empathize with the consumer to indicate that you understand their feelings. 

  • Firmness

When it comes to canceling service, stay strong and don’t give in. Remember, continuing service is against the law, and you’ll encourage consumers to disrespect you and your institution in the future, making stopping service much more difficult. Instead of saying, “OK, but this is the final one,” say, “I’m sorry, but I might lose my job.”

Other Intoxicated Guest Behavior

Stopping service isn’t the only stressful task you’ll have. Customers that are intoxicated might also cause additional problems: 

  • Customers are being offered beverages by someone at their party. 
  • Customers drive themselves
  • Intoxicated Customer Upon Arrival

Potential Violence

Anticipating difficulties is the greatest method to deal with possible violence or violent circumstances.

  • Observe to Anticipate

Customers that are noisy, rowdy, extremely energetic, or emotional; customers who make unwanted sexual or physical contact; customers who threaten or argue; or other things should all be avoided.

  • Prepare

If a situation appears to be on the verge of becoming violent, notify your manager and coworkers right away so they can be prepared to address it and assist. Continue to keep an eye on the issue.

  • Call on Authorities

Call the police if anyone in your establishment looks to be in danger. Make every effort to keep bystanders safe.

  • Remain Calm

When a customer looks to be about to turn violent, maintain control of the situation by keeping cool, asking the customer to cease the behavior, or telling them that you’ve called the police.

Illegal Activities

Another difficult situation is dealing with unlawful activities such as gambling, prostitution, or other lewd behavior, weapons, or drugs. However, it is your obligation to be aware of these problems. Keep your safety in mind and don’t take any action until you’ve considered the safety of yourself and your customers. Inform your management and delegate decision-making authority to them (it’s their job). If necessary, contact the police (your manager may come to this decision).

Incidents and Authorities

Your business may utilize incident reports to keep a written record of a situation, and liquor authorities and law enforcement may pay you a visit from time to time.


Can ServSafe Alcohol be taken online?

Yes, ServSafe Alcohol offers an online course that provides the flexibility to learn at your own pace. The online program includes interactive modules, videos, and practice quizzes to reinforce the learning material.

How can I register for ServSafe Alcohol training?

To register for ServSafe Alcohol training, you can visit the official ServSafe website or contact authorized training providers in your area. They will provide information on available courses, schedules, and registration procedures.

Is the ServSafe Alcohol certification nationally recognized?

While ServSafe Alcohol is widely recognized and respected in the industry, certification recognition varies by state and local regulations. It’s important to verify the specific requirements and acceptance of the certification in your area.

Are there any prerequisites for taking the ServSafe Alcohol course?

There are no prerequisites for taking the ServSafe Alcohol course. It is open to anyone interested in learning about responsible alcohol service and obtaining certification.

Can ServSafe Alcohol help with job opportunities?

Yes, ServSafe Alcohol certification can enhance job opportunities in the alcohol service industry. Many employers prefer or require certification as it demonstrates a commitment to responsible alcohol service and adherence to legal requirements.


In conclusion, our ServSafe Alcohol study guide provides essential knowledge and skills for maintaining a safe and responsible alcohol service environment. With comprehensive coverage of alcohol laws, responsible service practices, and effective communication techniques, it equips individuals with the necessary tools to ensure the well-being of customers and the overall success of their establishments.

Is this Servsafe Alcohol Study Guide too long? You may find it long but it already covers all the knowledge as well as skills you may have to obtain during preparing for your important exam. 

Visit our websites to get more information and free ServSafe practice test. Hope that our free ServSafe Study Guide 2021 helps you gain all the essential knowledge for your coming exam! To download, visit our website for your IOS or Android device.