Tips on Responsible Alcohol Service

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This information is NOT to be regarded as legal advice, but rather as a collection of facts, ideas and observations gathered by our office over the years. Any errors or misrepresentations are unintentional:

 Responsible alcohol service hints:  

  • How alcohol is absorbed: 2-4% through the mouth/20% in stomach/balance in the intestines

  • Food helps because: Needs to pass thru stomach via pyloric valve which empties into the intestines -- food thus absorbs and slows down the absorption -- since food leaves stomach in 2-3 hours, eating just prior to or while drinking is important

  • If large amounts of alcohol is consumed, it irritates the stomach lining and causes vomiting

  •   Anxiety causes stomach to stop absorbing and since the person does not feel 'inebriated' they feel as though they can drink more

  •  BAC is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in the blood -- a breathalyzer works because it measures the alcohol in the droplets in the lungs -- there is an exact formula he breathalyzer measures

  •  At 150 pounds one 5 oz glass of wine on an empty stomach produces a BAC of approximately .02%, a 100 pound person, the person would have a BAC of .04% and a 200 pound person a BAC of .012% -- since fat does not absorb alcohol, a fat person will have a higher BAC than a muscular, lean one

  •  Since women generally have a higher percentage of fat, they will become inebriated sooner than a man of a similar weight 

  •  The primary body part impacted by high alcohol consumption is the brain, including motor functions and it diminishes the sense of smell and taste [vis a vis, a very small amount of alcohol enhances the senses of smell and taste]

  •  Alcohol initially is a stimulant, but quickly diminishes and becomes a dulling/depressing agent as consumption continues, especially beyond .05% BAC

  •  Intoxication actually INCREASES for 30 to 90 minutes after drinking ceases

  •  Very small amounts of alcohol is excreted via sweat, breath, and urine -- but about 8% goes through the kidneys and 90% by the liver.

  • an 'awake' effect and do nothing to mitigate the intoxication

  •  Alcohol interferes with and interacts with various other drugs.....and can be extremely dangerous

  •   Alcohol excess over an extended period can be very toxic. It impacts the nervous system [tingling/numbness] and decreases testosterone, causes ulcers, blood coagulation, impacts functions of the liver and kidney


  •   Servers bear responsibility as well as permit holders. DRAM SHOP laws dictate that servers have the responsibility to not serve under age persons and those obviously intoxicated. Law suits resulting from an accident can be initiated by the person consuming as well as third parties injured by the inebriated person. Both civil and criminal penalties can be imposed.

  •   Management should develop a 'cut off' policy and servers should be aware of the policy. Role playing practice sessions will help in developing procedures to firmly yet respectful such policies.

  • The development of a diary or log system should be kept of dates, times, and incidents, arguments or fights. These should include names of witnesses, etc., and likely would be helpful if a lawsuit does ensue.

  • Servers might use a S I R technique: size up the customer when they come in, interview them casually before the service begins, rate them as to: the person seems normal.....they need to slow down their consumption....if they appear inebriated, no more should be served to the customer 

  • Each customer should be assessed after each drink is served. The server should try to slow down their service of additional drinks

  • Food, snacks, etc. should be available.

  • The goal should be to keep the customer below .07%IF THE PERSON IS OR BECOMES INTOXICATED

  • servers should know they will be no help in the situation

  • servers should not become hostile -- keep a friendly demeanor

  • do not embarrass the person; do not accuse the person of over imbibing

  • stop all alcohol/offer food

  • be firm

  • inform management and other staff

  • record the incident in the log


  • Before each shift, managers should make sure have posted the 21st birthday vis a vis the day staff is working; make sure they verify the picture and information on the ID match the person presenting it

  • Use an indelible stamp or wristband that cannot be removed and/or altered to verify age once the ID is checked

  • Remind the server that they can be cited for under age drinking 

About the author:

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Donniella Winchell, Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association...

Donniella Winchell