There is a fine line between tipsy and just plain drunk. Once someone crosses that line, and you can tell they have had too much to drink, what do you do? You hear them slurring, but they ask for another drink. Should you continue to serve them, or cut them off? Does it matter if they are being obnoxious or just minding their own business? Be prepared for this situation by knowing how to handle an intoxicated customer.

How-to Handle an Intoxicated Customer: Keeping Everyone Safe

Identify Them

In order to handle an intoxicated customer, you will first need to know how to spot them. Typically, they are loud and overly animated. They may be aggressive getting to the bar or trying to get your attention. However, sometimes drunk customers act the opposite. Be on the lookout for anyone who is quiet and moving slowly as well. An easy-to-spot sign is that they have a ‘glazed’ look in their eyes.

Know the Laws

In most states, drunk customers are the responsibility of a bar owner or manager. In fact, you could face penalties for serving someone who is already really intoxicated. These penalties can range from fines to having your liquor license suspended or revoked. It may seem unfair, but if a drunk customer leaves and hurt themselves or someone else, you could personally face criminal charges and lawsuits.

Since alcohol servings laws vary by state, it is good to know the laws in your state. By knowing the laws, you can protect yourself, your business, and your customers. Make sure your team knows the laws as well. There are training programs available for bartenders and managers to help them know how to properly handle an intoxicated customer. This is definitely worth investing in, and some states even require these classes.

FAST Method

In order to handle an intoxicated customer, you can use the FAST Method. Friends: Friends are a great resource in this situation. Most drunk customers will be with friends. Explain that you cannot serve their intoxicated friend anymore and that you want to ensure they get home safely. Ask: If the friends are not helpful or the patron is alone, ask if they are really sure they want another drink. Give them the chance to cut themselves off. If that doesn’t work then move to the next step. Suggest: Offer the customer a glass of water, or even a complimentary soda, coffee, or snack. Getting food in them will help keep them from getting as drunk, and water will rehydrate them. Plus, this could distract them as well.

Taxi: You convinced the customer to stop drinking. Does that mean you are clear? You need to make sure you get the customer home safely. Get them a taxi, or have their friends order an Uber of Lyft. Then, make sure they actually get in the vehicle! Also, document everything.  That way, if you are ever faced with legal issues related to overserving, you can show proper documentation. This step can really help protect you and your business.