Leveraging Bouncers to Reduce Alcohol Service Liability

Posted on: by Kristen Marie | No Comments
Leveraging Bouncers to Reduce Alcohol Service Liability

Alcohol service liabilities and the responsible service of alcohol is one of the most difficult and expensive arenas for many bar and nightclub owners. Not only is there service discretion when it comes to when to serve someone and how much to serve someone, in most bars and nightclubs multiple employees may interface with one patron, making it easy to “pass the buck” or simply not realize how much a patron has been served. This is further complicated by the fact that when patrons enter, it can be difficult to know how much they drank before walking through your door. So what do you do as an owner or manager to lessen your liability and protect your establishment from expensive lawsuits or loss of a liquor license?

  • Start with your first line of defense: One of the first ways to protect your establishment is to start with bouncers and in-house guards. Since bouncers usually are the first people to interact with a patron, make sure your bouncers are trained to not only recognize when an intoxicated patron tries to enter, but also equipped to handle the situation correctly. Bouncers need to be able to quickly assess intoxication, make quick decisions about entrance, and also have procedures in place to notify servers and bartenders when a patron’s intoxication level is potentially dangerous. Furthermore, bouncers should be continually monitoring these patrons who do enter and have ways to assess their intoxication.
  • Create Procedures and Documentation: As anyone in the bar and nightclub industry knows, there is no way to predict the reactions of an intoxicated patron who is shut off or asked to leave a bar. Therefore instead of leaving things up to chance, your bouncers should have set procedures and documentation in place for anytime this occurs. This should include specific training for how to stop a situation from escalating, ways to calmly interact with a drunk customer, and what steps need to be taken when the patron leaves. It also is critical that bouncers fill out proper documentation in case a lawsuit or complaint arises. Documenting each and every step is the first step from protecting yourself from liability.
  • Leverage Bouncers To Monitor Consumption: In most bars, by the time the bouncer gets involved it is too late. The patrons are already excessively drunk, perhaps fighting or violent, and aggressive. However many of these situations could be avoided if the bouncers continually monitored patrons inside throughout the night. Many patrons will be served by multiple waitresses or bartenders, making it relatively easy for them to be over-served. However properly trained bouncers can quickly identify potential problem patrons and monitor their behavior so that behaviors don’t escalate.
  • Understand Procedures For When a Patron Leaves: As many establishments have learned the hard way, you can be held liable for what a patron does after they leave your bar. If the patron was over-served or leaves very intoxicated and gets into an accident, some bars have been held liable. Therefore bouncers must know what to do in this situation. This should include suggesting patrons don’t drive, calling cabs for intoxicated patrons, informing police when customers drive away intoxicated, and documenting each and every step along the way.

    Want to learn more about how to train your bouncers and leverage them against expensive alcohol service problems? Contact us or look into our online bouncer training courses for alcohol liability and complete training.

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