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Is a Restaurant or Bar Responsible for its Drunk Customers?

Bars are generally a fun place to hang out with friends and get drinks together. You may not think much of your bartender, but they’re keeping a careful eye on people in the bar. While they want to keep the atmosphere light-hearted and enjoyable, they’re making sure no one is getting too drunk. If an intoxicated person comes back to the bar for another drink, the bartender is legally obligated to refuse them service.

Driving while intoxicated easily leads to car accident injuries and damages. If you’ve been in an accident caused by an intoxicated person, a Columbia, SC car accident lawyer at the Solomon Law Group can help. We’re dedicated to getting results for our clients and will do all we can to get you compensation.

When Do Bartenders Refuse Service?

Bartenders are responsible for refusing service to intoxicated patrons. If they do, they could face serious penalties. They’re also civilly liable if they sell alcohol to an intoxicated person who then drives.

Knowing they could be held responsible for an intoxicated person’s actions, bartenders are observing their patrons and making sure nothing gets out of control. While there aren’t exact definitions of intoxication, if someone is slurring or stumbling when they walk, the bartender will most likely refuse service to that individual.

How Do Restaurants and Bars Identify Intoxicated Patrons?

On a crowded weekend night, it’s difficult to keep track of people and assessing if they’re intoxicated or not. Some bartenders may be busy trying to keep up with the orders. But there are other people who are paying attention to customers, too.

The bouncers at the entrance to bars and restaurants do more than check IDs. If someone is standing in their line and they’re clearly intoxicated, the bouncer won’t let them into the bar. Inside, wait staff and hosts move around the area and can survey more people than bartenders. They can cut people off from alcohol as well.

Some tips to making sure intoxicated persons aren’t served are centered around a proactive and observant staff.

  • Periodic Checks. Taking times throughout the shift to assess the patrons will help in busier moments. If you see someone stumbling and then their friend comes up to get two drinks, then you’ll probably know that the second drink will go to the intoxicated person.
  • Inform Staff. During shift changes, the previous shift needs to inform the oncoming staff of who they’ve been keeping an eye on or if someone’s actions concerned them.
  • Control Areas. Once the bouncers are at the door, there’s an extra barrier to keep intoxicated persons out. But some people might already be in the establishment. If the restaurant has more than one bar or has multiple ways to order drinks, consider consolidating drink service from one area. Staff should also keep an eye on bathrooms and parking lots to make sure no one is drinking more and putting themselves in danger.

With more responsibility on bars and restaurants, they’re lowering the chances of intoxicated people drinking way past their limit. This could translate in less people getting DWIs and making the roads safer for everyone.

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