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Reducing liquor liability before the first drop is poured

Failing to act responsibly when serving alcohol could be catastrophic for your business. You could be held accountable for any death, injury or damages caused by an intoxicated patron, resulting in expensive civil or criminal litigation, fines, increased insurance rates, loss of your liquor license – even the loss of your business. Safeguards can reduce the risk.

Consider that every two minutes a person is injured in a drunken driving accident, and driving while intoxicated cost the United States $132 billion in 2011, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In 2014, alcohol-impaired crashes accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Golf courses, hotels, restaurants, craft breweries and other hospitality-related service businesses are especially vulnerable.

Educate your employees by taking these steps to jumpstart this very important conversation:

  • Train your employees in safe alcohol service. Responsible drinking begins with responsible service. Enroll your bartenders, servers and staff in an alcohol service certification program.
  • Always card everyone. No matter how old your patrons appear to be, everyone should present their IDs if they look 40 years old or younger. You never want to risk inadvertently serving a minor.
  • Create official protocol for handling inebriated guests. This gives, your employees the knowledge and confidence to respond to difficult situations in a consistent manner.
  • Develop a call-a-cab program. Establish clear policies about when to give a restaurant, bar, or hotel customer an alternative to get home safely. There are many ways to establish such a program, and it is a business decision; some restaurants, bars and hotels may already have an arrangement with a local cab company.
  • Don’t give away free drinks. This encourages overdrinking. Instead, try giving away free appetizers that will help slow the rate of alcohol absorption.

While avoiding liquor liability entirely may not be possible, having a plan in place to control your exposure can help protect your business, employees, patrons and the public.