Free training for anyone who serves or sells alcohol is readily available, but demand for those classes will likely spike once they become a requirement.
New state laws regulating alcohol sales in Oklahoma will go into effect on October 1. Starting then, employees who handle alcohol will be required to take Responsible Beverage Service and Sales Training through the Alcohol Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission. Wichita Mountain Prevention Network’s RPC Director Jayci Enerson said WMPN has helped ABLE hold free training in Ardmore and Lawton for years, but there’s been an uptick in attendance.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve and set up monthly trainings in big city hubs like Durant and Ardmore,” Enerson said. “Because once October 1 hits, every employee has to be trained within two weeks of employment.”
Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ training is the only course currently accepted by the state, and only two ABLE agents are currently holding classes.
“For now it’s free, but they said down the road they may eventually charge for it,” Enerson said.
Enerson said her organization is continually answering questions from anxious business owners. She said while they’re doing their best to answer them, they refer them to ABLE just as often. ABLE Agent Todd Anthony is handling training in the Ardmore area.
“It’s been a struggle for us, too, because they’re changing the laws every day,” Enerson said. “We’re asking our ABLE agent and we’re getting a lot of questions from retailers.”
Enerson said everyone from servers in restaurants to cashiers in grocery stores will need to complete the training.
“This includes if you serve or furnish alcohol in any way, and that includes liquor stores, restaurants, bars, catering or special events,” Enerson said. “We can come in and train everybody, or we can train just a few new employees.”
Under the new laws, an employee is responsible for the cost of the license and once an employee has it, they only need to renew it and won’t have to retrain unless their license lapses. Employers will need to keep proof that their employees have completed the training on file, but ABLE is not yet sure how it will enforce this.
Prevention Specialist Chelsey Stevenson said ABLE agents are generally busy, but attending the training is the best way to find answers.
“I’ve only been here for about five months and we’ve done a few trainings, and the volume has increased,” Stevenson said.
Businesses with high turnover will need to train new employees more frequently, which could pose another problem when the new laws go into effect.
“If we don’t set up something ahead of time, there’s no way we could keep up with the requests coming in,” Enerson said. “ABLE has warned that the first year or so will be a learning process.”  
The next area training will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. on August 16 at the Ardmore Public Library. For more information, contact WMPN at 580-490-9197. For updates on state liquor laws and implementation visit https://www.ok.gov/able/.