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BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program

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Alcohol Effects


Your Customer Had Too Much to Drink?

Because determining whether a patron is intoxicated can be difficult, it is important to make an initial assessment of the guests as they enter your establishment or when they are first seated. A change in behaviour or abnormal behaviour is a good indication of the effects of alcohol consumption.

Watching for signs of intoxication requires you to be generally observant. As a service professional you should be closely watching your section anyway, so you can anticipate your patrons' needs and be readily available should they require service. In order to do that you should be in your section whenever possible.

Second, look for changes in behaviour. Has a quiet person suddenly become the life of the party at the bar? Is a regular customer who is normally good-natured becoming edgy or mean-spirited? Does a customer smell of cannabis? These are signs that something is going on. Start paying close attention now. Talk to coworkers or your supervisor and get a second opinion if you are not sure about a guest's behaviour.

If you begin to notice signs of intoxication, you can adjust your service before the guest becomes intoxicated. The signs, which can appear in any order, include the following:

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These are tips, not an exhaustive list. Discuss signs of intoxication with other staff at your establishment. Point out signs of intoxication to each other, or check with more experienced staff if you think you see some signs but are unsure.

One problem is that by the time changes in behaviour are obvious, the patron may already be intoxicated. Your objective is to be able to spot the subtle changes in your customers as they drink, so you can identify when they have had enough before they are intoxicated.