In this article, dram shop and liquor liability expert, Jeff Jannarone discusses critical control points in bar operations, including recourse options for handling intoxicated patrons.
Every bar or restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages is at risk of having intoxicated patrons. However, the mere presence of an intoxicated patron within an establishment does not necessarily indicate a breakdown in an establishmentâ€™s training or operations, nor does it necessarily indicate a violation of the standard of care within the industry.
The presence of intoxicated people in any environment increases the likelihood of crimes and/or injuries. While bars and restaurants are responsible for limiting alcohol consumption, it is challenging to prevent every patron from becoming intoxicated; consequently, the way that an establishment responds to the presence of an intoxicated person is often the crux of a liquor liability dispute.
Questions that are commonly at issue in liquor liability disputes include:
- How effective was staff at identifying the intoxicated patron?
- Was the intoxicated patron continued to be served alcohol?
- What measures did the establishment take in safeguarding their customers and the public?
These issues represent critical control points that test how effectively staff was prepared to handle potentially dangerous situations.
Many states have a requirement that businesses that are permitted to serve alcohol not serve anyone who is visibly intoxicated; permittees also are responsible for providing proper measures to ensure the safety of any intoxicated person on their licensed premises (or when they leave?). These requirements are reflected in the standards of care for the industry and reinforced by the various professional training programs that promote the responsible service of alcohol (e.g., TIPS, TAM, RAMP, etc.).Â The modern standard of care goes well beyond simply removing drunken people from an establishment or passively posting the phone number for a taxi service. A well prepared bar or restaurant has a variety of best practice recourse options when they identify an intoxicated person.
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