Local bartenders get tips on dealing with drunk customers

How does a bartender handle a drunk who's demanding more drinks?

About 20 bartenders got advice Tuesday on that question and others they say will help them try to keep drunken-drivers off Nevada's roads and understand their own liability in serving alcohol.

About 177 people died in alcohol-related car accidents in Nevada in 1998, and 49 percent of all traffic accidents in Nevada are alcohol related, reported Mothers Against Drunk Driving in January.

Those statistics helped prompt Carson City's Capital Beverages to look at a way to help save lives.

Using a program called Training for Intervention Procedures, Capital Beverages invited area bartenders and other alcohol servers to attend a free class on ways to serve alcohol responsibly.

The classes focused on role-playing scenarios in which the students became patrons or servers in difficult situations. Some situations forced the servers to find out what they would do if:

- a guest was obviously intoxicated, but demanded more drinks.

- underage people try to fool the server with phony identification.

- a guest is sitting alone and appears depressed and sad.

- a woman, heavily pregnant, comes in and orders a drink.

With 15 years of bartending experience, Sue Miranda, owner of the Chestnut Inn in Silver Springs, said she learned more about the liability she has as a bartender.

"You can't run the customer's life, but you can be aware of things to suggest to your customers," Miranda said. "Maybe we can point them in the right direction and keep people who are drinking off the streets."

Sam's Place bartender Gerald Moore, of Zephyr Cove, said with 30 years of bartending under his belt, he was slightly skeptical of what he could learn at the course.

"You think you know everything, but you don't," Moore said. "We learned how to recognize potential problems and learned the way to cut somebody off politely, but firmly. They showed us how to handle different situations and keep confrontations from happening. It's a good class for anyone who handles liquor."

"This is a different approach, targeting the people who are making the decisions to sell alcohol," said Jason Brown, sales operations manager. "This is bringing experienced bartenders and other alcohol servers and giving them training on when to cut people off and other cues and factors to when people have had too much to drink."

A distributor for Anheuser-Busch, the company may seem like an unlikely proponent of cutting patrons from their alcohol supply.

"We're not out selling as many cases of beer as we can and then not worrying about it again," draft technician Brad DeClark said.

The six-hour course designed to help servers learn new ways to communicate with the inebriated and keep drunken drivers off the streets.

"Everyone is concerned about the problem, and we're doing something to try to make a difference," operations manager Tim Maloney said.

DeClark and fellow Capital Beverage draft technician Bill Shields attended the course. While not alcohol servers, they spend a lot of time in bars and restaurants fixing draft machines. Both men said the training would help them if they were in a confrontational situation in a business.

"We may be able to make a suggestion to calm things down if something happens," Shields said.

Capital Beverages is a family-owned business started in 1937. They distribute in Carson City, Gardnerville, the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and much of Lyon County. They're planning a second TIPS class March 8. They also offer other pamphlets and booklets on talking to youth about underage drinking. For information, call 882-2122.

Capital Beverages is planning another Training for Intervention Procedures on March 8. For information on the TIPS program, call Tim Maloney at 882-2122. Capital Beverages is located at 2333 Fairview Drive, Carson City.


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