Starting July 1, law will allow 18-year-old alcohol servers in restaurants

Act No. 2022-383
by Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette

As of July 1, the minimum age for alcohol servers in restaurants will be 18, under legislation the governor signed into law April 14. The law change is reflected on Alabama’s Child Labor Laws poster, which is required wherever those under the age of 18 are employed.

The workforce development law for the restaurant industry:

  • allows 18-, 19- and 20- year-olds to serve alcoholic beverages in restaurants provided they do not work as bartenders. It specifically prohibits 18- to 20-year-olds from pouring or dispensing alcoholic beverages. The restaurant also must be certified annually as a responsible vendor under the state’s Responsible Vendor Program.
  • allows wholesale licensee or off-premises retail licensee employees under 21 years of age to “handle, transport, or sell alcoholic beverages, provided the employee is working within the scope of his or her employment.”
  • eliminates the up to 30-day jail time for juveniles and employers, while increasing the civil penalties for businesses for underage violations to $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third or subsequent offense.

Rep. Kyle South, left, discusses the server legislation with Jheovanny Gomez, co-owner of the Jalapeños Mexican Grill restaurants in the Tuscaloosa area.

Alabama Retail board member Jheovanny Gomez of Jalapeños Mexican Grill told lawmakers the change would be “a game-changer for my business and the hospitality industry.”

In neighborhood restaurants like mine, I rely on 16- to 18-year-olds as hostesses, busboys and dishwashers,” Gomez said. He said his young workers want the higher paying server jobs at his three restaurants in Tuscaloosa, Northport and Cottondale, but often seek jobs elsewhere once they turn 18. “This law will help me retain workers and deal with workforce shortages,” he added.


This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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Final legislative action originally posted 4:30 p.m. April 6, 2022; act posted at noon April 14.