The horror stories are inevitably true after a night of drinking: people have a little too much, decide to drive anyway, and don’t get far before they get pulled over on the way home. Intoxicated customers don’t make the best decisions and can be responsible for awkward and unusual behavior. If patrons get too far out of control, the staff in the restaurant will need to step in.
While bars are generally well-versed in this area, it’s not uncommon for other businesses to host open houses or cocktail parties as a way to bring new patrons in the door and to get to know the community through hosting a meet and greet. However, when alcohol is served, some things can go wrong. It’s essential for businesses to have a good strategy in place to prevent these issues from occurring at all.
Keep it Legal
First, be sure you’re permitted to serve alcohol in the first place. “Your state might require you to have a temporary liquor license, and if you don’t, your business could be sued if anything takes a turn toward the worst. As long as you have a license to serve and don’t serve minors, there should be nothing to worry about,” explained Paul Michaels, founder and CEO of National Bartenders.
Avoid Serving Too Much
For the most part, it’s never good to serve anyone who is noticeably intoxicated. Become familiar with the visible signs of intoxication like stumbling, slurred speech, and red or streaky eyes. If they can’t balance very well or are becoming more aggressive, these could also be signs they have had too much. If someone matches this description and is asking for more alcohol, it’s best to say no and to grab a supervisor. Or, you can be subtle and offer water to try and help the guest to see that they have had more than enough. If you need to explicitly state that they should take a break, be firm but polite.
Decrease the Intoxication Rate
In addition to monitoring how many alcoholic beverages you’re serving, it’s a good idea to offer customers food like pretzels, chips, or peanuts. You can also keep yourself occupied so that you are not immediately refilling drinks. When attending to a larger party, only serve alcoholic beverages to the customers who request it.
Have A Breathalyzer On-Site
Businesses that are in the alcohol industry might feel that a Breathalyzer can be the ideal solution to prevent intoxicated patrons from drinking and driving. Many bars have breathalyzers with individual straws that get dispensed vending machine-style. These devices have to be regularly calibrated and maintained, which can be an additional expense, but they do raise the question of precision. Breathalyzers have also been found to be less accurate than blood tests in ascertaining blood alcohol content.
In short, since companies can be legally responsible for injuries if they serve alcoholic drinks to intoxicated customers, they will need to have staff members who can be assertive and can competently manage inebriated patrons.