While not all your customers may be ‘mates’ it is an important consideration for licensees and probably more so in the run up to and over the festive period.
It is that time of year when groups will be heading out for their works Christmas parties, other festive gatherings or family celebrations meaning your premises will likely be busier than usual – while this is great for business and especially after the loss of trade due to the pandemic it also brings with it the concern that more people may be tempted to drink and drive.
Whether a customer drinks and drives is ultimately a matter of personal responsibility. However, as a licensee you do have a responsibility to encourage responsible alcohol consumption on your premises, not to serve customers who are drunk and more generally to promote the licensing objectives of public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder.
There are some measures that you can introduce to try and avoid being in the position where a customer who has had too much to drink will want to or attempt to drive home and these include encouraging customers who are driving not to drink.
There has certainly been an increase in the number of alcohol-free or low alcohol drinks options available and so in the first instance it may be worth looking at what you are offering to see if your range could be improved. As well as soft drinks and alcohol-free or low alcohol beers there are now many spirit and wine options available so customers can still feel like they are having their usual tipple, without the usual alcohol content.
It may also be worth checking with your suppliers to see if there are any offers they would be willing to give you on soft drinks or low or no alcohol products so that you can promote these to designated drivers over the festive period. This could make the option of not drinking alcoholic beverages more appealing to those who are driving, especially if they are cheaper than the alcoholic options (which is not always the case). Some examples of this are large soft drinks suppliers offering ‘buy one get one free’ on their products for designated drivers.
You may be able to establish when a group of people enter your premises who is intended to be the designated driver and if so it is worth spending some time advising them of any offers you have on compared to normal pricing and also the range of options available to them, especially if it is not just soft drinks.
However, it may not be possible to identify the designated driver in every group and so it is worth ensuring that any offers that you have on soft drinks or non- or low alcohol drinks are well advertised in your premises.
The above measures will go some way to encouraging designated drivers not to drink, but for some it will still not be enough to stop them getting carried away and drinking too much alcohol once they are in the party mood. In light of this you should also ensure that you have some measures in place so that you can offer them an alternative to driving home at the end of the evening.
These measures could include ensuring that you have telephone numbers of local taxi firms available and offering to call your customer a taxi if they need one, advertising that taxis are available and should be used if someone feels that they have had too much to drink and perhaps looking into alternatives to driving or getting a taxi that are available in your area, such as services where someone else will come and drive the car home.
It is worth giving your customers a gentle reminder at the end of their evening if you think that they are going to attempt to drive home and they have had too much to drink.
It is not only an offence to drive while over the legal limit or unfit through drink, but it is also an offence to be in charge of a vehicle – the penalties they could face are imprisonment, a fine and a driving ban.