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Intoxication Identification

A bartender or server has many responsibilities, one of which is to ensure that customers are not served alcohol if they are already intoxicated. Another is to recognize when to stop serving alcohol to a customer that has become intoxicated on the premises. There are a few ways to identify when a customer has had too much to drink, and it is important to identify these signs to prevent over-intoxication and possible alcohol poisoning.

Do You Need an Expert Witness on Intoxication?

Preston Rideout is a Dram Shop expert eyewitness with over 25 years of experience in all areas of nightlife, including managing, operating, designing, and launching bars and nightclubs across the United States. As an expert witness, Rideout is qualified and accepted to testify in court on the issue of intoxication detection and prevention.

Working with a Dram Shop expert like Preston Rideout is one of the best ways to help ensure that your side of the story is made clear during your case. Contact us now to request a consultation where you will be able to learn more about the types of services you can expect from this renowned expert eyewitness.

Tips for Identifying Intoxication in Customers

There are several ways to identify when a customer has had too much to drink. These include:

Observe Behaviors

If you know the customer well or have been observing them for a while, you will be able to tell when their behavior changes, and they become more intoxicated. Look for changes in speech, coordination, or balance. Other signs of intoxication include speaking louder, bothering other customers, or the old classic: putting a full drink down, losing it, and promptly ordering another.

Check for Visible Signs of Intoxication

If a customer’s eyes are red or glassy, or if their face is flush, these can be signs that they have had too much to drink. You may also be able to hear in the customer’s voice that they are slurring their words or speaking more loudly than usual.

Ask the Customer Directly

Sometimes, the best way to tell if a customer has too much to drink is to ask them directly. If they cannot answer your question coherently or seem confused, these can be signs of intoxication. You may be surprised to learn how many customers will readily volunteer that they are very intoxicated. However, this admission doesn’t always mean they will gracefully accept your decision to stop serving them.

Keep Track of What You Are Serving

If you keep track of what drinks you are serving and how many, it will be easier to identify when a customer has had too much. For example, if you know that a customer has had four beers in the last hour and is now ordering another drink, you may want to cut them off.

Shared bar tabs between bartenders are also a great way to see what is happening because you may see a customer for the first time on a busy night but discover that they have had many drinks from another area of your establishment.

What to Do if You Suspect That a Customer is Intoxicated

Stop Serving Them Alcohol

Once you have determined that a customer is intoxicated, it is important to stop serving them alcohol immediately. If you continue to serve them, you could be held liable if they become injured or cause harm to someone else as a result of their intoxication.

Let the customer know that you will no longer be serving them alcohol and why. It is important to be firm but polite in this situation, as the customer may become agitated or aggressive if they feel they are being denied something they want.

Inform Your Colleagues

Make sure that the rest of your staff knows that this customer will no longer be drinking because they may simply go to the other end of the bar and order from your colleague. There is nothing more frustrating — and potentially dangerous — than cutting off an intoxicated customer, only to see them standing at someone else’s service area with a fresh drink in hand.

Offer Alternative Drinks

If the customer is insistent on continuing to drink, offer them non-alcoholic alternatives such as water, soda, or coffee. This will help to sober them up slightly and may make them more amenable to leaving the premises when it is time to do so.

Ask Them to Leave

If all else fails, you may need to ask the customer to leave the premises. This is usually a last resort, as it can often lead to an argument or even violence. If you need to ask the customer to leave, make sure that you have a staff member with you for support and that you call a taxi or Uber for them.

Intoxicated customers can be a major problem for bars and restaurants, but there are steps that you can take to identify and deal with them. By following the tips above, you can help keep your establishment safe and enjoyable for all your responsible customers.

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Hiring Preston Rideout, as a Nightclub and Bar consultant, was the best decisions we ever made. His methodology and meticulous attention to detail are mind blowing but I was most impressed with his transparency.

Ryan Giunta Chief Marketing Officer and Bomber Ski

No one combines passion for nightlife and knowledge of bar operations better than Preston Rideout. He turns ordinary bars into extra ordinary profit centers.

Howie Morgan President Election Impact Group

It's my pleasure to recommend Preston Rideout to anyone seeking a nightclub and bar expert. His Bartender Training Manuals are the definitive guide for owners who want to streamline operations and maximize profitability. You would do well to have him on your...

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