Notice Served on Overserving

Nashville has its fair share of tourism and rowdy weekend crowds. Is your bar prepared to minimize the risk of overserving guests (or manage already overserved patrons entering your bar)? Warm summer days may be over, but patrons in Nashville will soon be posting up at the bar to take shelter from the cold.

We’ve already looked at the importance of recognizing a fake ID, so it is crucial for owners and bartenders to also be well versed in the telltale signs of intoxication in order to properly deal with situations involving unruly patrons. Intervening with an intoxicated patron may seem difficult, but your actions are critical. When you take the appropriate steps to prevent intoxicated patrons and alcohol-impaired driving, everyone benefits.


Some signs of intoxication are:

-          Slurred or slow speech

-          Tendency to lose a train of thought

-          Red eyes, inability to focus

-          Decreased alertness

-          Staggering or the inability to walk

-          Fine motor skills are affected


Dealing with intoxicated patrons:

-          Politely deny further service. Offer food or alcohol-free alternatives.

-          Tact and courtesy go a long way in preventing explosive situations.

-          Avoid threatening statements, such as “You are drunk.” Instead, put the focus on yourself. For example, “If I serve you another drink, I could lose my job.”

-          Offer to order a ride share or call a friend for a ride.

-          Be firm. Once you have refused service, do not bargain or back down.

-          Stay calm and remain in control. Move on to serving other customers or attend to other tasks to keep yourself busy.


If removal of a drunk patron becomes necessary, it should be done as quickly and with the least amount of force as possible. Using unreasonable force may result in injury and subsequent legal action. If there is the chance of a violent reaction from a patron, be prepared to call the police for assistance.  

In the event of an incident, fill out a Liquor Liability Incident Form, which documents the measures taken to control an intoxicated person, and helps to defend liability in the event of an alcohol-related accident.

It is not a matter of if but when this will happy in your Nashville establishment. Review these measures regularly with staff so your business is well served when dealing with overserving. 

Will Wright