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    4 Signs Of Intoxication

    For TABC certified bartenders & business owners, knowing when to cut someone off is important. Learn the signs of intoxication & when it's time to stop serving.

    4 Signs a Patron Is Intoxicated & When to Cut Them Off

    MARCH 23, 2018

    TABC certification plays a very important role in protecting people’s lives. Part of being TABC certified to sell or serve alcohol is knowing how to recognize your customers have had enough and what to do about it. Cutting off intoxicated patrons can not only save their life, but the lives of people they may come in contact with. But do you know these common signs of intoxication?

    Signs of Intoxication:

    1. Slurred Speech

    If you are bartending or serving alcohol at an on-premise establishment, one of the first things you’ll observe from an intoxicated person is what you hear coming out of their mouths. If they are struggling to speak to you or others around them, or grasping for a word that should be simple to remember, chances are they need to be cut off.

    Slurred speech is a very common sign of intoxication, and is a huge reason why you should continually engage your customers in conversation while they’re in your establishment.

    2. Difficulty Maintaining Their Balance

    Sometimes noticing signs of intoxication might be as easy as watching a particular customer as they walk around your place of business. That’s because one of the primary signs of intoxication, and one of the easiest to notice, is difficulty maintaining balance.

    If you see a customer bracing themselves on chairs to maintain balance, or if they stumble on obvious steps, then you better think twice before serving them a drink, unless that drink is a tall glass of water.

    3. Slowed Reaction

    Talking to your customers is one of the greatest tools you have as a seller-server. It’s recommended to greet your customers as soon as possible not only to provide great customer service but to get a baseline for their behavior. This allows you to notice any signs of intoxication they may be exhibiting from consuming alcohol or drugs prior to arriving at your place of business. It also allows you to monitor your customer’s behavior while they’re in your business and notice any changes as they consume alcohol.

    4. Aggressiveness and Changes in Behavior

    One of the surest signs that someone is intoxicated at your place of work is aggressiveness towards employees and patrons and changes in behavior. If you notice sudden changes in your patron’s demeanor or if they become aggressive verbally or physically, cut them off.

    Intervening and Cutting Off Bar Service

    While our online TABC certification course will help you with how to handle certain situations, taking appropriate action can be tough. If you see that a customer is drinking quickly, they may become intoxicated quickly as well. In this case, you can:

    Slow down service

    Avoid going to the table as often

    Offer food or non-alcoholic beverages

    Suggest other activities

    TABC On The Fly Will Have You Certified in No Time

    If you are a server, bartender, store clerk, or plan on holding a position selling or serving alcohol, then you need to make sure you are TABC certified. The curriculum is designed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and while not legally required in the state of Texas, most employers across the state require it. Enroll today to get TABC certified fast and efficiently with TABC On The Fly.

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    Source : www.tabconthefly.com


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    HomeEducationLicensee EducationIntoxication


    Intoxication Identifying Problem Drinkers

    There are three basic types of drinkers: social drinkers, alcohol abusers, and alcoholics.

    Social Drinkers

    Most individuals who consume alcohol are social drinkers. For these people, drinking may not produce serious long-term health or social problems. Social drinkers may not experience the effects of chronic alcohol abuse, but they are still at risk for alcohol-related crashes following single bouts of drinking.

    Alcohol Abusers

    These are people who experience a pattern of drinking that interferes with their day-to-day activities. These persons are not yet physically dependent on alcohol.


    These are persons who experience physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. As a result, their ability to control drinking behavior is impaired. This impaired control is the critical difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

    Signs of Intoxication

    Look for these signs in your customers.


    Slurred speech

    Slow and deliberate movement

    Decreased alertness

    Quick, slow or fluctuating pace of speech


    Overly friendly Loud

    Changing volume of speech

    Drinking alone Annoying others Using foul language

    Drinking more or faster than usual

    Physical Appearance

    Red, watery eyes Disheveled clothing Sweating

    Smell of an alcoholic beverage on person

    Droopy eyelids Lack of eye focus Flushed (red) face


    Fumbling with money Swaying, drowsy Stumbling Bumping into things Falling


    Argumentative Belligerent Careless with money

    Irrational statements

    Losing train of thought

    Service to an Obviously Intoxicated Person

    The law states that no person may sell or give alcohol to anyone who is obviously intoxicated. Therefore, every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given any alcoholic beverage to any OBVIOUSLY intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

    A person is obviously intoxicated when the average person can plainly see that the person is intoxicated. In other words, the person looks or acts drunk. This includes regular customers who “always act that way.” It does not matter if the person is driving. For there to be a violation of law, the prosecutor must prove that the seller either saw or had the chance to see the signs of intoxication before the service.

    Habitual drunkard – A person who has lost control over his or her drinking. No person may sell or give alcohol to anyone who is a habitual drunkard and no person may cause or permit this to occur.

    A store clerk may discover a habitual drunkard in one of two ways: (a) A family member tells you the person has a drinking problem and asks you not to serve, or (b) the patron is a regular customer and unable to handle drinking on a regular basis.

    A licensee or server who has been warned and still serves a habitual drunkard faces possible ABC disciplinary action and criminal prosecution. (Sections 25602(a) and 23001 Business and Professions Code; 397 Penal Code).

    Public Intoxication

    It is against the law for any person to be in public under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and unable to care for his or her own safety or the safety of others (Section 647(t) Penal Code). A person’s BAC level is not a factor in whether the person can be arrested under this law. Law enforcement officers look at the outward signs of intoxication in deciding whether to arrest the person.

    Driving Under the Influence

    Although licensees and/or employees should be concerned with outward signs of a customer’s intoxication level, they are not legally responsible for a customer’s driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge. However, by keeping the customer under the legal level, he or she will be more likely to get home safer and more likely to keep coming back.

    Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Criteria:

    .08% BAC or higher

    Motor vehicle on public roadway

    .04% BAC or higher for commercial drivers

    .01% BAC or higher if under age 21

    Drink Chart Guide

    # of Drinks Female Body Weight in Pounds Driving Condition

    100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240

    0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Only Safe Driving Limit

    1 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 Driving Skills Impaired

    2 .13 .11 .09 .08 .07 .07 .06 .06

    3 .20 .17 .14 .12 .11 .10 .09 .08 Legally Intoxicated

    4 .26 .22 .19 .17 .15 .13 .12 .11

    5 .33 .28 .24 .21 .18 .17 .15 .14

    Substract .01% for each 40 minutes that laps between drinks.

    1 drink = 1.5 oz. 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. 5% beer, or 5 oz. 12% wine.

    Fewer than 5 persons out of 100 will exceed these values.

    # of Drinks Male Body Weight in Pounds Driving Condition

    100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240

    0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Only Safe Driving Limit

    1 .06 .05 .04 .04 .03 .03 .03 .02 Driving skills Impaired

    2 .12 .10 .09 .07 .07 .06 .05 .05

    3 .18 .15 .13 .11 .10 .09 .08 .07

    4 .24 .20 .17 .15 .13 .12 .11 .10 Legally Intoxicated

    5 .30 .25 .21 .19 .17 .15 .14 .12

    Substract .01% for each 40 minutes that laps between drinks.

    Source : www.abc.ca.gov

    Signs that a person is unduly intoxicated

    Signs that a person is unduly intoxicated

    You are responsible for monitoring patrons for signs of undue intoxication. You are not required to count drinks or use a breathalyser but you should observe the patron's speech, coordination, balance and behaviour.

    The amount of liquor that each person consumes before becoming unduly intoxicated varies. The signs of intoxication may be influenced by:

    gender age size health state of mind rate of drinking food consumed medication

    frequency of drinking.


    Incoherent, rambling and slurring.


    Rude, offensive, overly friendly, annoying, confused, aggressive, violent and inappropriate.


    Unsteady on feet, staggering and swaying.


    Spilling drinks, inability to find one's mouth with a glass, drowsiness and difficulty opening and closing doors.

    Transcript of animation

    You may consider the following indicators when assessing if someone is unduly intoxicated, but this is not a definitive list.

    If you note any of the above indicators in a patron’s conduct, assess if there could be causes other than intoxication. Speaking to a person about the possible causes for their signs of intoxication is important in meeting your obligations under the Liquor Act. It also ensures that you do not unlawfully discriminate against a person with mental or physical impairments.

    Your observations of the quantity, rate and type of liquor consumed by a patron on the premises can help inform your assessment of whether that person is unduly intoxicated.

    In the situation where you observe a patron has consumed little or no liquor at your venue but they are showing signs of being unduly intoxicated, they may have consumed liquor (or other intoxicating substances) before entering your venue, or you may not have seen their previous consumption at the premises. If they display indicators of undue intoxication and you have spoken to them to ascertain there are no other causes, you still have grounds for reasonable belief that they are unduly intoxicated.

    Transcript of video

    Also consider...

    Download our 'Follow the law' posters and LCD images.

    Learn more about RSA training.

    Read about responsible service of gambling (RSG) training.

    Subscribe to the Inside Liquor and Gaming newsletter.

    Contact the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.


    Definition of 'unduly intoxicated' for the responsible service of alcohol


    Penalties for allowing unduly intoxicated patrons to obtain or consume alcohol

    Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2019

    Last updated: 26 Jun 2019

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    Source : www.business.qld.gov.au

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