Your bar serves alcohol. That likely makes it a popular destination for individuals to go and have fun. However, we all know that alcohol might cause people to have too much fun. Too much drinking leads to intoxication. Intoxication could easily put a consumer in harm’s way. And, when they pose risks to themselves, they also pose risks to others. Therefore, you assume a degree of responsibility to make sure patrons stay safe. Sometimes, you might want to refuse them service. However, the question is, do you have the authority to do so?
Why Refusal to Serve Exists
Most bars and restaurants have a right to refuse alcohol service outright. They also have the right to terminate service to a patron if they feel the step is necessary. This right stems from the fact that restaurants are private businesses. Should an intoxicated patron display reckless behavior, the owner has no rule to put up with it.
People might claim that refusing to serve them alcohol is a form of discrimination. This is not the case. Restaurants can't refuse service under civil rights laws. However, these only usually protect against age and gender discrimination. Intoxication is not a protected class under any law. So, should a patron show signs of intoxication, the restaurant can stop service.
When intoxicated, a drunk individual could harm themselves and other people. By serving them, the restaurant assumes responsibility for some of that party's actions. As a result, someone harmed by the actions of an intoxicated individual could sue the business as well as the offending party.
Therefore, the business might have to pay damages that could get very expensive. A liquor liability policy might help with such costs. Yet, it does not eliminate the risks of businesses harmed by their own refusal to stop service.
A Note on Serving Pregnant Women
Most people know that it is not safe for expectant mothers to consume alcohol. However, there is no federal law that requires bars to stop service to pregnant mothers. Still, many states have laws charging knowingly-pregnant women who consume alcohol with child abuse.
So, restaurants should know that by providing a pregnant woman with drinks, they could open themselves up to liabilities. While the law is still fuzzy on this matter, consulting an attorney about your own responsibilities will prove beneficial.
In most cases, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol must not serve indiscriminately. In fact, they usually have a duty to keep irresponsible drinking to a low risk. Call Guardian Insurance at 855.554.6482 and speak with an insurance professional.