Legal Advice

How to deal with drunken punters

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

How to deal with drunken punters

Related tags: Drinks promotions, Alcohol intoxication, Alcoholism, Ethanol

A previous article discussed the issue of drunkenness, following a couple of high-profile cases which brought this issue to the forefront.

In it we mentioned the lack of clear guidance for operators in dealing with drunkenness, and what level of inebriation is acceptable, as there is no real definition.

We thought it would be helpful to provide some advice on measures you can put in place to avoid unwittingly serving a customer who is drunk, and to try to ensure that customers do not get drunk on your premises by drinking excessively.

The crucial thing here is staff training, and you should ensure that all staff — both bar staff and door supervisors (where applicable) — are trained so that they:

Can spot the signs of someone who is drunk and trying to enter your premises and/or get served — these include traits such as slurred speech, glazed eyes or being unsteady on their feet.

Are aware that if a customer appears to be drunk they should not be admitted to your premises and/ or should be refused service. It is sometimes difficult to tell, so if the staff member suspects the customer is drunk but is unsure, it may be prudent to advise them to err on the side of caution and refuse entry and/or service.

Are aware of the need to monitor customers who have already been admitted to the premises and/or previously been served.

It may be that they appeared fine at the time, but have later become drunk — for example, if they have consumed a large quantity of alcohol just before entering your premises but this didn’t start to take effect until after they had been served.

Do not allow a customer to buy drinks for someone else who is clearly drunk and should not be served (as this is a separate offence). If they suspect someone is doing this, they should refuse service.

Do not encourage customers to drink large quantities of alcohol — this could be by way of drinks promotions or by serving the customer larger measures, for example. You
should ensure that any drinks promotions offered are responsible and that staff make customers aware of all measures available for a specific drink at every transaction (eg, different measures of wine or beer). It is worthy of note that there is the additional risk here of falling foul of the mandatory conditions.

While this is not a comprehensive list of measures you can implement, and you may already have some policies in place yourself, these are a good starting point to ensure your staff are aware of the action that should be taken, and that you comply with your obligations in relation to drunkenness.

Related topics: Licensing law

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