Heartland News Investigates: Restaurant responsibility when serving alcohol

Heartland News Investigates: Restaurant responsibility when serving alcohol
By: CJ Cassidy
Does a Missouri law give you a chance to hold bartenders and restaurant owners responsible for your drinking? It's an issue that has many people talking.
Wednesday, a renewed investigation began into Mike Shannon's restaurant in St. Louis, to see if workers there knew former Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was drunk as they continued to serve him. Last week authorities said they had no evidence to go on.
At Broussard's Cajun Cuisine in Cape Girardeau, workers learn how to spot drunks by logging onto a state program online, called S.M.A.R.T (State of Missouri Alcohol Responsibility Training) - then, they have to pass a test and get a certificate before they can get behind the bar.
Not everyone does it -workers at other restaurants and bars say it's a matter of common sense; if they see someone's drunk, they cut them off.
Taegan Turner, who works at Show Me's Restaurant, finds a lot to smile about in her bartending gig. A fake award hanging on the wall for instance, which honors her for serving intoxicating beverages and making conversation with the most inebriated of customers. One thing she doesn't joke about, though - cutting off customers who've had too much to drink "They get very annoyed when you refuse them drinks get very aggressive that's when they're escorted out of the building," she says.
Turner says she doesn't want to find herself slapped with a fine, or held accountable for someone else's drunk driving crash, and Broussard's owner Hunter Clark agrees. "If my staff served someone to the point beyond reasonable intoxication, that would be our responsibility. That is the law," he says.
Still Clark says figuring out who's responsible can be cloudy as a glass of beer. "If someone has been drinking in another facility or multiple facilities come in here order a drink, and we serve them that drink, we may not know they're intoxicated to a point they should not drink anymore," he explains.
DWI attorney Michael Maguire says that's why you might not have a leg to stand on - if you take a bartender to court. "We don't require bar owners to have breathalyzers for customers to blow on see if they're under the influence to shut them off," he says.
So, what about that old saying about the customer always being right? "Not when they're drunk," Turner laughs.
Restaurant workers also say if you ever find yourself having had one too many just ask them, and they would be more than happy to find you a cab. You can also check with the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to find out how you can attend a training session if you're interested in working in the restaurant industry.