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Make Responsible Alcohol Service Your Resolution in 2017

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A goal that should be on the top of every operator’s resolution list for 2017 is responsible alcohol service. When you serve alcohol, you know the risks:

  • You risk lawsuits if you over-serve.

  • You risk lives if you serve a drunk driver.

  • You risk your livelihood if you sell to a minor.

What can you do to protect your license and ensure the safety and well-being of your customers in 2017? Here are a few resolutions you may want to make:

1. Create and publish an alcohol service policy and instruct every employee to follow it. If you already have a written policy, review it and make appropriate changes to address any of the issues you may have had in 2016. If you do not yet have a written policy, now is the time to create and implement one.

2. Train and re-train staff and management. In addition to implementing an alcohol service policy, your staff training should include a requirement for certification through a reputable alcohol server training program. The advantages of certifying your staff include liability insurance discounts; a greater ability to prevent intoxication, drunk driving, and underage consumption; and the protection afforded by a reasonable efforts defense in the event of an alcohol-related incident. Make sure the training includes a positive approach to the sale of alcohol and provides skills training in intervention techniques. Be sure to monitor staff conduct and re-train employees when necessary. 

3. Keep good records. One of the best defenses against liquor liability lawsuits is good documentation. Consistent and thorough documentation is an essential part of demonstrating a commitment to responsible alcohol service. Operators should record and keep current the certification status of their employees, just as they maintain daily logs of the happenings at their establishments through incident report log-books.

4. Communicate with the public. Let community members know that you are part of the solution. Demonstrate your commitment to responsible service by working with others such as community coalitions, law enforcement, local associations, and college campuses. Display your ID checking and alcohol service policies in a public place, or post signage showing that your staff is certified in a reputable alcohol server training program.