Huntsville’s Premier Personal Injury Attorney

How do bartenders know when to cut off a customer?

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2022 | Liquor Liability / Drunk Driving Accident Liability

When you think of high-paying occupations, bartender probably does not come to mind. Indeed, according to, the average bartender in the U.S. makes between $17,000 and $34,000 per year. To pad this comparatively low salary, most bartenders rely on customers to leave generous tips.

Eighty-sixing a customer is not something most bartenders do on a whim, as cutting off a drinker can lead both to no tip and a bad online review. Still, responsible bartenders understand the importance of not overserving their customers. How do bartenders know when to tell patrons they have had enough booze, though?

A judgment call

Everyone handles alcohol a bit differently, so bartenders often must make judgment calls when deciding not to allow someone to continue to drink. Because eighty-sixing a patron can be awkward, bartenders often ask their managers to intervene. Nevertheless, all staff at the bar should observe the behaviors of those they serve to know when to stop pouring drinks.

Intoxicated behaviors

Alcohol takes some time to work its way into a drinker’s system. Therefore, bartenders should not serve anyone who exhibits intoxicated behaviors, as these behaviors are likely to worsen for some time after the person stops drinking.

Here are some signs a bar patron has had too much to drink:

  • Excessive drinking, especially of shots
  • Slurred speech
  • Stumbling
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Sleepiness or sluggishness
  • An odor of liquor on the person’s breath

Because heavily intoxicated patrons are dangerous to themselves, other patrons and the public at large, bartenders must never overserve anyone. If they do, the bar ultimately may have some liability for any injuries or other damages an overserved customer causes.