Any bar or tavern in Mississippi with a liquor license must comply with the state’s service restrictions. The goal of those limitations is to prevent overserving and keep minors from accessing alcohol. Every server in these establishments must receive training for responsible service.
If you face a claim for a violation of the dram shop laws for overserving or serving underage patrons, there are defense options available.
The customer was not visibly intoxicated
One of the key limitations of alcohol service is to refuse service to any patron who appears visibly intoxicated or impaired. If the customer in question did not appear intoxicated and there was no reason for anyone to assume otherwise, your surveillance footage should reflect that. Mannerisms, movements and behaviors can indicate intoxication and you can assess all of those things from surveillance footage.
You did not serve them enough for that level of intoxication
If you are facing a claim that you overserved a patron who later got into an accident, it is important to consider the individual’s blood alcohol content in comparison with the check that they paid. If they were markedly more intoxicated than their bar tab could have caused, that may indicate that they were drinking elsewhere after they left.
The underage customer’s ID appeared valid
If you served an underage patron, it is important that your surveillance footage indicate that you asked for their ID. If you did, and the identification appeared valid, you may be able to fight the claim.
Dram shop laws are important for safety, but you have rights as an establishment owner as well.