How to Minimize Your Restaurant’s Liquor Liability Exposure?

Restaurant's Liquor Liability Exposure
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In today’s modern world, it’s no longer a secret that alcohol leads to many problems in the workplace. Just think about it: You’re serving food and drinks to your customers, but what happens when they get drunk? They could start making inappropriate comments to other patrons or even get into fights. This can lead to lawsuits, which is why you need to minimize your restaurant’s liquor liability exposure.

Hire Professional Bartenders Who Can Recognize a Patron’s State of Intoxication

A bartender is a common profession in the USA, with a workforce of over 492,000 in 2020 and an outlook of 32%, which is way higher than other jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of a bartender is $26,350. With increasing job opportunities and a decent annual income, an increasing workforce is getting into this profession, making it easier for you to find a professional bartender.

Bartenders should be trained to recognize the signs of intoxication, overserving, and underage drinking. They should also be aware of potential drug use. This can help prevent serving alcohol to minors, serving alcohol to people who are intoxicated, and serving alcohol when someone is under the influence of other substances.

This training may be provided by your liquor liability insurance company or a third-party vendor training bartenders on identifying intoxication levels to provide appropriate service without violating state laws or compromising their liability exposure. You can also train the recruits on handling overdrunk patrons, refusing service, or other aspects that can reduce your restaurant’s liquor liability exposure.

Here are some training tips you can use:

  • Ensure that your employees have proper training on liquor liability and alcohol safety.
  • Teach them to recognize when a patron is intoxicated.
  • When serving an intoxicated guest, instruct your staff to slow down service and ensure that the patron is not consuming more than one drink at a time. If the customer asks for another drink before the current one has been finished, politely tell them no until their first drink has been consumed.
  • If a customer appears to be overserved or is trying to get served more alcohol than they should be drinking, inform your employee immediately so that he/she can refuse service and call 911 if necessary. Additionally, you should consider implementing policies requiring all servers who work during prime evening hours to complete an online course on how to serve alcohol properly.

Have a Well-Defined Overserving Policy

A well-defined overserving policy that limits the number of drinks a patron can be served is an essential part of your liquor liability protection. Effective training is the best way to ensure that your staff understands and follows these policies.

You should ensure that bartenders are trained to record how many drinks a patron drank. Bartenders need to know what signs of intoxication and the effects mixing alcohol with other drugs can have on a person’s behavior. Your employees should also be taught how to handle situations where they believe someone has had too much to drink but isn’t yet visibly intoxicated.

Get a Hospitality Insurance Coverage

Hospitality insurance is a must for a restaurant. This can be justified by the fact that hospitality insurance premiums skyrocketed even during the Covid-19 pandemic when most restaurants and hotels were shut.

A hospitality insurance package can help you avoid legal and financial problems due to future lawsuits due to liquor liability. For example, it can assist if a guest is harmed or injured while on your premises, through no fault of yours, and you are sued for damages. It can also defend against claims made, even if they aren’t valid—which can be very expensive.

When looking for hospitality insurance, opt for a package that can cover your specific needs. Although you are taking this coverage for liquor liability, hospitality insurance can cover several other aspects, such as fire, theft, vandalism, etc. Hence, it is best to choose a comprehensive package that can address your requirements.

Refuse Service When Required

When a customer is intoxicated and refuses service, you act in your business’s best interests. This is because it is illegal in many states to serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated. In addition, if an intoxicated patron leaves your establishment without a ride home and causes an accident while driving, you could be liable for damages resulting from their intoxication. To ensure that this does not happen to your business, there are several steps you can take:

You can follow the guide crafted by the Queensland Government on “refusing service to unduly intoxicated patrons.” The guide mentions the dos and don’ts of refusing services. These include:

  • Do explain the reason for the denial of service
  • Do offer non-alcoholic drinks instead
  • Do ensure the patron leaves the premise safely
  • Do help the patron get a cab
  • Don’t call the intoxicated patron a drunk
  • Don’t talk harshly with a high voice
  • Don’t get persuaded to offer the last drink

Educate People About Consequences of Drinking Too Much

When people drink too much, they have a diminished ability to make sound decisions. This can lead to accidents and injuries, even death. In fact, drinking too much alcohol can also lead to many health problems that can be fatal.

Alcohol use disorder, for instance, is a common problem related to the use of alcohol. A National Institute of Health survey found that over 15 million people in the USA had an alcohol use problem. Moreover, WHO found that over 3 million people die annually due to the harmful use of alcohol. Hence, many states require restaurants that serve alcohol to display signs that warn patrons about the dangers of alcohol abuse.

There are many ways to educate the patrons, such as:

  • Putting up posters on the walls of your restaurant
  • Printing menu cards that list the dangers of alcohol abuse
  • Utilizing social media to spread awareness about the risks people take when they drink too much alcohol
  • Posting signs that are visible at eye level.
  • Using materials that are specific to the area where the restaurant is located. For example, if a restaurant serves alcohol in a college town, it should post signs with information about how drinking too much can lead to academic problems and sexual assault.


Remember, you have the right to refuse service when a patron is intoxicated. This is just one way to protect yourself from liquor liability claims and ensure that you can continue operating your business without any issues. You can combine all the best practices mentioned in this article to minimize your restaurant’s liquor liability exposure.

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