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Training Tip: 5 Alcohol Service Myths

20160224_DM_130000_46_3_server_serving_beerIf you sell alcohol in your establishment, you know that alcohol service can be rewarding and enjoyable when alcohol safety is a top priority. But do you and your employees truly know the principles of responsible service? Check out the alcohol service myths below to see how well you understand critical alcohol facts.

  1. Drinking coffee can lower your blood alcohol content faster.
    Once alcohol is in your system, strategies like drinking coffee or taking a cold shower will not decrease your BAC more quickly. The only way to lower BAC is to give your liver enough time to eliminate the alcohol from your body. However, you can slow the increase of alcohol in your body while you’re drinking by eating food and consuming alcohol over a longer period of time. Encouraging customers to participate in other activities or offering food and water with drinks are great techniques for slowing down service and helping prevent patrons from reaching intoxication.
  1. People can develop a tolerance that prevents them from becoming impaired from alcohol.
    People who have a “functional tolerance” for alcohol may not appear as intoxicated as others, but that does not mean that they aren’t significantly impaired. A BAC at or above .08% will dangerously hinder judgement and reaction time, making driving extremely unsafe. Watch out for atypical signs of intoxication, such as drastic changes in mood and difficulty holding conversations.
  1. You don’t have to worry about serving a customer who looks like a teenager as long as their ID seems valid.
    If you have doubts about whether a customer is a minor, you should not serve them. There are many penalties for servers who serve alcohol to a minor, but no such consequences exist for refusing service to someone you suspect to be a minor. Watch out for cases of borrowed IDs or clever forgeries, and remember that refusing service can protect your establishment’s reputation and, more importantly, prevent potential administrative, criminal, and civil liability.
  1. There is more alcohol in three shots of whiskey than there is in three cans of beer.
    Typically, alcoholic beverages are served in sizes that make their alcohol content equal; these are called “standard drinks.” While it is true that whiskey is “stronger” than beer because it has a higher concentration of alcohol, a shot of whiskey is smaller than a can of beer. This means that one 1.5-ounce shot of 80 proof will deliver the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce glass of beer, which in turn has the same amount of alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of wine. And while standard drinks have the same amount of alcohol, other factors can influence the rate at which BAC increases, such as genetics, gender, and rate of consumption.
  1. If an intoxicated person wants to drive home, you should physically keep them from leaving the establishment.
    Not quite; you can’t use force on your customers, even if they are about to drive drunk. You should do what you can to persuade the customer to find other transportation, but if they decide to drive anyway, contact the authorities. Give them the necessary information they will need to find the driver; they will then have the appropriate skills and resources to deal with the situation.

How did you do? Were there any myths that surprised you? Which ones do you think your employees would believe? Make sure to continually review responsible alcohol service practices with your employees and determine what they still need to know. Try checking out our Alcohol Server/Seller Course for convenient and comprehensive training. Our course teaches the correct principles behind these myths, as well as what to do when faced with other difficult serving situations. Armed with this knowledge, your employees can perform their jobs safely and successfully.

Diana Shelton

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