Restaurant / Bars Blog

Liquor Liability

alcohol colorfulFrom 21st birthday celebrations to bachelor parties to weekend binge drinking, you will likely have to deal with intoxicated customers on at least a weekly basis.

While refusing to serve drinks to belligerent patrons, breaking up drunken arguments and cleaning vomit off the bathroom floor might all be annoying distractions from operating your bar/restaurant, drunken customers can also cause major liability problems. For example, if a customer becomes intoxicated at your restaurant or bar, you might be liable if he/she drives drunk and causes injuries and/or damage. Furthermore, underage drinking at your establishment can lead to major fines, revocation of liquor licenses and even jail time for you and your servers.

Below are some tips for making sure that alcohol consumption at your establishment is legal and safe.

  • ALWAYS Check Patrons’ IDs: In order to avoid being liable for underage drinking, always check a patron’s ID card to be sure that he or she is of legal drinking age. Even if they are using a fake or forged ID, you might be able to escape liability if you checked the ID.
  • Train your bartenders and servers how to deal with drunk patrons and know how to identify and cut off an intoxicated customer.  A few quick tips:
    • Identify a future drunk before things get ugly. Watch for excessive beer chugging and shot taking. Furthermore, monitor people coming into your bar. Are they already intoxicated? If it appears that someone is drinking irresponsibly (but not yet intoxicated), you can always serve him or her very slowly or not at all.
    • NEVER serve visibly intoxicated patrons. Serving already intoxicated patrons makes YOU liable for any physical harm or property damage they cause after they leave your bar/restaurant. Provide training to your bartenders and servers so that they can easily identify and cut off a drunk customer. If an intoxicated customer orders another drink, offer him/her a non-alcoholic drink or some food instead.
    • When all else fails, call the manager. Young and potentially inexperienced servers might be uncomfortable dealing with a particularly belligerent customer. In this case, instruct them to call the manager before things get out of hand.  Your managers should be trained on how to deal with intoxicated customers.
    • Call a cab: This is the most important tip for establishments that sell alcohol. Besides being extremely dangerous and just plain dumb, drunk driving can be a major liability for your bar/restaurant. If the intoxicated person causes any property damage or injures someone on the drive home, you could be liable for damages.

Contact your knowledgeable broker at Tegner-Miller Insurance Brokers to learn more about Liquor Liability Coverage.  Please call us at 310-828-9662.