Refusing service to drunk

April 30, 2012

Peter Coulson


Question

I work in a bar and last week there was a private function and gentleman had been, I believe, drinking excessively, taking full advantage of the pre-paid wine bought in for the party. He requested another bottle of wine, which I refused on the basis that I thought he was too drunk and asked him to sober up a bit. When I informed a co-worker, she told me I had no right to refuse him as it was a private function and no money was being exchanged. Is this true?

Answer

While it is true that there is no specific offence of permitting drunkenness, or supplying alcohol to a drunken person, rather than selling it, there are offences of permitting disorderly conduct (including drunkenness) and of 'obtaining alcohol for a person who is drunk'. In either case, this would apply to circumstances where the alcohol was not bought at the time but was being delivered for consumption as part of a contract of sale or a pre-arrangement. I therefore think you were quite right to refuse additional service in these circumstances, because evidence of drunkenness on the premises could certainly lead to a review of the licence and should never be either condoned or encouraged.

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