How Establishments Should Handle Over-Intoxicated Patrons

Posted on: July 11, 2018 by RMS Hospitality

As the bread and butter of any bar or tavern, it’s no secret that alcohol sales provide great profit margins. But with a successful bar business comes the possibility of having to handle customers who tip the scales of intoxication and end up presenting a liability to your bar.

There is a balance bars need to find where they are serving customers and making good business, and not getting customers to overdrink. The key to handling drunk customers is to not let them get to the point of being intoxicated in the first place. There are a number of ways to prevent this, but there are many ways to take care of them when they get drunk in your establishment.

Here’s what you can do to handle intoxicated customers in your bar, tavern, or restaurant.

First, Remember Bars Are Liable

Keep in mind that a bar can be held legally liable if something controversial happens involving a drunk customer who was served at your bar. Liquor laws do vary by state, but an essentially universal law is that if a person is involved in an accident while under the influence, the establishment that served them may be held liable. The incident does not have to occur at the establishment for them to be held liable.

This is where bar liquor liability coverage can help to protect against this and provide the security bars and taverns need when dealing with over-served patrons. Keep in mind that general liability coverage typically does not cover these types of claims; if your clients serve alcohol of any sort on any occasion, liquor liability coverage is a must.

Taking Care of the Customer

A good rule of thumb for bars is to not serve a customer who already appears inebriated. However, some customer can hold their liquor very well and staff may not realize someone is drunk until it’s too late. Whoever is over the limit should stop receiving drinks immediately. If there are already-intoxicated customers who come into your bar already under the influence you can refuse to serve them. Bars do not have to serve customer who are already drunk, so be sure to stand your ground.

Additionally, encourage the customer to instead order food or coffee as an alternative. This will help settle them down and wake them up a bit while they sober up. And whether or not they are staying to eat, when you feel it’s right a cab should be called or a ride-sharing service should be suggested. Ultimately they should not be allowed or encouraged to drive.

Finally, if a customer becomes belligerent or angry against your establishment, staff or other customers, escort them outside and call local authorities immediately.

Again, while a bar is a business and alcohol sales are the ultimate goal day in and day out, keeping the integrity of your establishment intact while taking care of the wellbeing of your customers who come in to be served should be at the top of any business plan.

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (516) 742-8585.

Posted in: blog Liquor Liability