There are serious liabilities involved with the sale and service of alcohol in Texas.  Being aware of these consequences and being responsible in who and how much you serve is essential.  If a person is served in your establishment and is later found to be a danger to him/her self or others, you could face serious charges on both the state and civil level.      


The sale of alcohol to a minor is a serious offense.  The server can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable with up to 1 year in jail and/ or a fine upwards of $4000. That’s a lot of tips!  All customers appearing to be younger than 21 years old must be checked for proper age before being served.  Knowledge of approved identification verification is crucial, as is knowing how to spot a fake I.D.


Selling alcohol to an already intoxicated person could also pose a threat to your freedom.  Also a misdemeanor, this infraction is punishable with up to 1 year in jail and a fine between $100 and $500.  Bartenders, store clerks, and wait staff are required to be able to spot the signs of intoxication and refuse service to those who are noticeably impaired.


Signs of Intoxication:  Poor coordination with words, reduced judgment, being overly excited, talking loudly, slowed response in action and speech, and/or noticeably impaired vision (shown by squinting or closing one eye to reduce double vision) are all signs of intoxication.


Another potential liability to consider is a person who may be planning on getting behind the wheel after having had too much to drink.  This can cause a serious threat to the customer themselves, the public, and possibly your career.


Preventing Drunk Driving:  To prevent someone from driving while intoxicated, you can suggest the patron leave his or her car keys with the manager (this way you can ensure that the car will not be towed), offer to call a cab, encourage sober friends to drive the patron home, offer to call a friend or relative to drive the customer home, promote a designated driver program, and encourage staff awareness.


Spotting a Fake I.D.:  One thing that every bartender will at some point come across in their career is a fake identification card.  Nowadays, technology has made it much more difficult to catch a false I.D.  They look real. They usually have all of the usual things to look for such as holograms, pictures, and even pass some scanner tests.  Here are some helpful hints in protecting yourself from serving citizens who are not yet of drinking age.


Compare the picture to the person in front of you.  Look to see if there are any raised edges on the card to indicate any photo being placed atop the original picture.  Be aware of any fuzzy words or numbers showing a sign of low quality printer ink.  Determine if the patron looks nervous and always be sure to check expiration and issuance dates.


Keeping yourself and your patrons safe is the number one priority of any good bartender.  Ensuring that you are always aware of any potential danger will greatly excel customer service and good work ethic.  Using the tips above, you can have great confidence that you will do whatever it takes to keep yourself and your patrons happy.  The most important step in becoming aware of bartender liability in Texas can be found by going to TABC online: TABC online and reading about server and establishment awareness.


About the Author: David Perkins is a marketing associate of American Seller Server, a leading online resource for your TABC online course, TABC license, and TABC online certification.  For more information, please visit

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