TABC Safe Habor in Texas

If an employee sells or serves alcoholic beverages to a non-member of a private club, a minor or an intoxicated person, the actions of the employee shall not be attributable to the employer if:

  • the employer requires its employees to attend a commission-approved seller training program;
  • the employee has actually attended such a training program; and
  • the employer has not directly or indirectly encouraged the employee to violate such law.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.14(a)
See TABC Administrative Rules §34.4 for additional information.

Benefits of Safe Harbor for employees

Requiring employees to be seller/server certified provides “safe harbor” for permittees. If all employees are seller/server certified, the permittee’s alcoholic beverage license might be protected from a fine, suspension or cancellation. Other benefits may include:

  • lowering liability insurance costs;
  • more knowledgeable and responsible employees;
  • being a more responsible member of your community.

How do I know if my employees are TABC certified?

Everyone that takes a TABC approved seller training course receives a certificate immediately.

If they do not have a certificate, verify that employees are seller/server certified by checking the TABC website. You will need their social security numbers and dates of birth.

Certified seller training schools have 14 days to upload trainee information into the TABC database. If an employee claims to be certified and is not in the system, contact TABC at 512-206-3420.

Key Points of Being TABC Certified

If one of your employees is charged with knowingly selling alcohol to a minor or to an intoxicated person, you could lose your license to sell unless the following six criteria are met:

  • The person selling is not the owner or an officer of the company;
  • The person selling holds a current seller-server training certificate from a TABC approved school;
  • All employees engaged in the sale, service, or delivery of alcoholic beverages, as well as their immediate managers, are certified within 30 days of their hire date;
  • The employer has written policies for responsible alcohol service and ensures that each employee has read and understands these policies;
  • The employer does not directly or indirectly encourage the employee to violate the law; and
  • There are not more than three of these type of violations within a twelve month period.

Meeting all of these criteria is commonly referred to as “safe harbor.” If an illegal sale is made, the seller or server might be arrested and fined up to $4,000 but the company’s permit/license may be protected.

Violation of TABC Rules

If one violation occurs:

  • Criminal action may be taken against the employee;
  • The owner or manager may be required to complete an affidavit stating that they have met all the requirements;
  • The owner or manager will be required to provide the names, social security numbers, and dates of birth of all employees so that the affidavit can be verified;
  • TABC will verify the certification of the employees.

TABC Administrative Rules §34.4 and 34.5 explain additional sanctions and penalties.