How to handle drunk customers

How do you deal with a drunk customer?

You’re a bar manager, and there’s a drunk customer causing a scene with a member of the staff. Or at least, you think he’s drunk. What do you do to resolve the situation without it ending badly?

You want your customers to have a great time at your venue and of course, this includes alcohol. In fact, you probably spend a lot of time and energy making sure they buy more drinks! So naturally, drunk customers are an unfortunate and inescapable reality of owning a business that serves alcohol.

But customers who have had too much to drink can become destructive and disruptive, possibly upsetting and annoying other paying customers. Drunk customers are also much more likely to become unruly and start fights, whether it be with other patrons or with your staff. And, even worse, if drunk customers drive they may cause accidents that can be considered your fault. So what should you do when you’re faced with drunk customers?





  1. Stall the customer from ordering more alcohol. Serve him food instead of drinks, give him plenty of water, or give him free non-alcoholic drinks.
  2.  Stop him/her from causing problems. Find his/her sober friend to help you – drunken customers are more likely to listen to their friends than a bartender or staff member. Be polite for as long as you can, however, don’t hesitate to involve security if things start to get out of hand.
  3. Make sure the customer leaves your bar safely. Simply kicking out a drunk customer might seem like the easier option, but be careful. If a drunk customer leaves your business, gets behind the wheel, and causes an accident, your business could be held responsible. A restaurant in Pittsburgh was ordered to pay $15.6 million after a drunk customer drove away from the restaurant and caused an accident that killed a 7 year old. Not only do you not want that sort of accident on your conscience, but you likely can’t afford to pay a sum that high, either. You must make sure drunk customers have transportation—either in the form of a sober friend or from a cab. Let the customer know that their safety is important to you and escort them to the cab yourself if necessary.




It’s easy to follow the steps above – that’s what you and your staff have probably learned during your RSA training and certification.

But RSA is more than that – it is your duty of care to your customers and staff.

RSA is founded on the concept of Duty of care and requires managers and staff to take all reasonable precautions to protect patrons and staff by preventing patrons from becoming disorderly and/or suffering alcohol intoxication.

So when there’s a drunk customer in your business, it’s your responsibility to intervene. Staff should refuse to serve a customer who is clearly inebriated – it’s the right thing to do.

Unfortunately for you, the customer rarely sees it that way and might become angry and combative, making it a safety issue. However, you have an obligation to protect not just the drunk customer, but all of your other customers as well.

Proving to the customers that he or she is drunk.

One of the hardest things to do situations like the one above is proving to the customer that he is drunk. Bouncers and bartenders have always acted on a ‘gut feeling’ when judging a patron’s level of intoxication using the usual tell-tale signs – slurred speech, heavy alcohol breath, bloodshot eyes, inability to walk straight.. But is your gut feeling always right?


That’s why it’s so important for bars, pubs and venues to have an alcohol breath tester – to be able to make an informed decision and provide patrons and customers with an accurate device to measure their BAC.

This is where our AlcoSense Soberpoint II Wall Mounted Breathalyser comes in. No more need for your staff to risk a scene in front of your other guests, no more arguing with drunken patrons on whether they’re safe to drive or should call a taxi, and no more inexperienced staff fearing doing the wrong thing.


A bar breathalyzer like the AlcoSense Soberpoint II helps you with:

  • Certainty – staff can now confidently and discreetly ask patrons to show they’re below the limit
  • Responsibility – it helps you demonstrate your commitment to Responsible Service of Alcohol
  • Enjoyment – people can have fun and relax knowing they can check their BAC at any time
  • Disputes – your customers can demonstrate they’re not drunk
  • Ambience – helps staff to convince patrons when it’s time to call a taxi
  • Revenue – an extra income stream for your business
  • Peace of Mind – with less risk of a patron making a scene, it means a better ambience for your other customers to keep having a great time



We’re offering the Soberpoint II as a bar breathalyzer for pubs, bars, venues, hotels, even sports clubs. If you’re interested in installing one for your business, contact us or visit our website for more information.


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Daniel See

Daniel See

With Daniel’s extensive background in both Hospitality and Recruitment, he knows what employers are looking for in a person, as well as the types of screening and regulations that may be mandatory for one’s application for a job. As he has recruited professionals from various backgrounds, his knowledge of employment law, and employee/employer relationships are of invaluable insight.