Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Treatment Solutions Network Articles: How Can a Bartender Tell When Enough is Enough?

Treatment Solutions Network Articles: How Can a Bartender Tell When Enough is Enough?

Link to Treatment Solutions Network Drug Treatment and Recovery Articles

How Can a Bartender Tell When Enough is Enough?

Posted: 29 Jun 2011 02:31 PM PDT

The reality TV world was saddened last week over the death of “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn. Word spread quickly that he died in a car crash shortly after binge drinking  in a Pennsylvania bar. The unexpected death has left many people wondering what could have been done to prevent the events of that night, and fingers have naturally been pointing at the bartenders that served him.

Ryan Dunn’s Drinking Spree

Dunn and a few friends spent the night catching up and drinking at Barnaby’s, a bar in the Philadelphia area. Just after 2:30 am, Dunn got into the driver’s seat of his Porsche, and after going almost 140 mph, crashed the car. His blood alcohol level was .196, which is twice the legal limit. Questions started arising as Twitter photos emerged of Dunn drinking with friends that night. The photos left many people wondering why the bartender would continue to serve the celebrity after he clearly had enough, but investigators have cleared the bartender of any wrongdoing.

While bartenders are prohibited from selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons, surveillance video of Dunn’s group that night does not show Dunn looking intoxicated. Dunn, who apparently had a reputation for binge drinking and a high tolerance for alcohol, was able to hold his liquor better than most. Dunn also was given drinks by fans in the bar, which may have ultimately set him over his limit.

Bartender’s Responsibilities

Bartenders across the country face the same challenges all the time. Whenever a person is in a car accident, especially a fatal one, it is natural for family and friends to want to point fingers, and police typically investigate the bartender to see if anyone was selling to an openly drunk customer. "We often get the question of what should bartenders do," Sgt. Wayne Bush of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement says. "First, don't serve a person to that point — shut them off. If they slur their words, stand and are wobbly, hold on to the bar, are nodding off or have trouble getting money out of their wallet, they've had enough. Don't wait for them to puke on the floor or to pick a fight. That's too late." (1)

In the case of more experienced drinkers however, it isn’t that easy. "The bartender and wait staff have the obligation not to serve someone who is visibly intoxicated," Bush said. "What they have to realize is that someone can be drinking and not appear to be intoxicated because the last drinks haven't hit his system. It all depends on the person; someone who is a regular drinker will be able to drink more." (1) To make things more difficult, some people won’t take no for an answer. Someone who is cut off from a bartender can easily go to a table of strangers and beg a drink from them.

While bartenders should be responsible in their dealings with drunk customers, each person needs to be responsible for themselves. Setting limits, or finding a good group of friends to help a person drink responsibly will save many lives.


(1) Law requires bartenders to monitor customers’ alcohol use

Sober Steve-O reflects on boozing ‘Jackass’ pals

Investigators recount Dunn’s final hours (updated)

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