Preventing Holiday Liquor Liability Issues

We are in the midst of  the holiday season, and you know what that means.

For craft breweries, this celebratory time of year can bring some of the biggest sales activity. Party hosts pick up growlers and crowlers. Exhausted shoppers relax over a pint. Friends gather in the taproom for their annual white elephant gift exchanged.

It also means increased risk out on the road–and increased risk of liquor liability issues.

DUI arrests are at their highest between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The day before Thanksgiving is sometimes called “Black Wednesday” in the hospitality industry because it’s such a busy day for bars. And 40% of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers. That’s a 12% increase over the rest of the month of December.

No one likes the idea of people getting injured or killed due to a DUI incident; but if someone is involved in a traffic accident after leaving your tasting room, the resulting liquor liability claim could also do your business irreparable harm.

Remember that liquor liability is among the most severe claims a brewery can face financially—think legal fees, settlements, and fines—as well as more broadly. The reputational damage resulting from such a claim could have an ongoing negative impact on the business.

From Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, MADD runs the Tie One on for Safety campaign, urging people to rely on a designated driver for their own safety, and the safety of everyone else on the road. You might want to display the red TOOFS ribbon in your brewery during this season, in addition to posting the phone numbers of local cab companies. But what else can your brewery do to work to ensure the safety of your holiday guests?

Steps You Can Take

  • Review your brewery policies and procedures with staff to ensure everyone understand the seriousness of the issue, and how to avoid it.
  • Emphasize the importance of checking patron IDs and preventing serving underage customers.
  • Share techniques to help workers identify, assist, and stop patrons who have had too much to drink. (You may even wish to offer staff a refresher training session, such as LEAD or TIPS.)
  • Share techniques to encourage patrons who may have overindulged to use taxis or other ride services rather than getting behind the wheel.
  • Review how the brewery documents incidents involving patrons who have had too much to drink.
  • Review policies regarding employee drinking at the brewery.

Your goal is to brew great beer for your customers to enjoy. Your servers’ job is not only to pour that beer, but to make sure they are pouring it within the right limits. Make sure your team and your customers enjoy the holidays safely.

For more than 25 years, Beall Financial and Insurance Services, Inc., has been helping corporations and individuals protect their most important assets. The agency’s client base covers a spectrum of niche businesses, such as craft breweries, that require specialized insurance packages and knowledge. With California offices in Redlands and Newport Beach, Beall Financial and Insurance Services serves clients nationwide.