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How to Deal With Drunk Customers

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Businessmen having drinks at bar, man holding glass and slice of lime
Sean Murphy/ Iconica/ Getty Images
If you are planning on serving liquor at your new restaurant, than you should be familiar with all the laws and responsibilities that come with it. While liquor laws vary from state to state, in most cases if a person is involved in an accident while drunk you, as the owner of the establishment that served them, may be held liable as well.

The best way to avoid any potential lawsuits stemming from drunkenness is to not serve a customer who appears inebriated. Of course, some people can hold their liquor very well, and your staff may not realize the patron is drunk until it is too late. If you are faced with a customer who has had too much to drink, here are some tips for handling them:

    • STOP serving them immediately. If the customer has wandered in from another bar or restaurant, you can refuse to serve them. They may claim you’re acting illegal, but your not. You are acting responsible.
    • Offer the customer some coffee and some food, as an alternative to a drink.
    • Call a cab or another ride home for the customer. Do not let them drive!
    • If a customer becomes belligerent or angry, escort them outside of the restaurant and call the police, who can look after the customer, until he or she is safe and sober.

TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) is a program that teaches restaurant staff about the responsible sale of alcohol. It gives advice on how to identify if someone has had too much to drink, and how to deal with them effectively. Visit the TIPS website for more information training your staff.

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