Top 5 Reasons Bars Lose Their Liquor License

Bars owners have many responsibilities, but among the most important is keeping their liquor licenses in good standing. This can be more challenging than it sounds because bars often oversee many employees, each of whom must adhere strictly to California law to prevent problems with your license. Below you’ll learn about several of the most common reasons why bars lose their liquor licenses and what to do if yours is threatened.

1. Serving Minors

Each year, countless bars lose their liquor licenses for serving customers who are under the legal drinking age. The best way to avoid mistakes in this arena is to make sure your staff is well-trained. That means they should be able to recognize a California driver’s license and easily recognize false identification.

First, get your staff in the habit of properly checking IDs. It’s not enough to simply glance at the photo: the facial features and age in the photo should clearly match the ID holder. In addition, train your staff to recognize the characteristic signs of fake IDs like peeling edges. If a staff member has a question about the validity of an ID, encourage them to ask the patron questions such as their zip code or the spelling of their middle name to uncover whether the ID is a fake.

2. General Serving Issues

General serving issues, including underage servers and after-hours liquor sales, are major causes of liquor license loss. Remember that staff must be at least 18 years old to serve alcohol in a restaurant and 21 years old to serve at a bar. In addition, a server who sells liquor outside the hours designated on your license (even if by a few minutes) can jeopardize your liquor license.

3. Overserving

Overserving can lead to some of the most severe consequences for liquor license holders. For example, if an intoxicated patron injures another customer in a drunken brawl or gets in a car accident after leaving your establishment, not only could you permanently lose your license, but you could be required to pay legal damages as well.

Train all servers to recognize patrons who are inebriated and be comfortable refusing to serve any patron who is too drunk. Signs of an intoxicated customer include slurred speech, a lack of coordination, confusion, vomiting, nausea, and slowed reflexes or breathing.

4. Problematic Patron Conduct

A serious scenario that can lead to liquor license revocation is a patron who exhibits disorderly conduct. This can come in a variety of forms, including public drunkenness, disturbing the peace, unlawful gambling, and violence.

Again, it is crucial that your serving staff feels comfortable asking a disorderly patron to leave, but unfortunately, problematic patrons often become even more aggressive when they are asked to head for the door. If you train your staff to de-escalate aggressive scenarios effectively, it can make a world of difference.

Encourage servers to remain friendly and calm when approaching a problem patron. Also, they should never cut the customer off in front of other patrons. Instead, take the patron aside. Sometimes simply offering a glass of water or to call them a cab is all that is needed. If the situation continues to escalate, the staff should know to call the police.

5. Improperly Trained Staff

In Los Angeles, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) requires any worker at a business that sells or serves alcohol to complete the Responsible Beverages Service Training (RBS). The best part of this requirement is that before your staff attends training at your establishment, they will already be familiar with how to safely serve alcohol, check IDs, and identify intoxication.

A server who has not completed this training can cause big problems for your license, especially if they make a mistake. To avoid this, make sure your staff has completed RBS training, ideally before you hire them.

Contact a Liquor License Attorney

Unfortunately, even with a highly trained staff, mistakes, accidents, and other unforeseeable issues can happen, resulting in suspension or revocation of your liquor license. Keep in mind that all is not lost if you are facing disciplinary action against your license.  If your license is being threatened, your best course of action is to work with a liquor license attorney who can help you keep your license.

If you are in need of an experienced liquor license attorney, Scott J Harris can help you understand your legal rights, defend you in an ABC hearing, and more. Get in touch today at (323) 894-1095 for a free consultation.

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This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.