Bartending Tips: How to Deal with Underage Drinkers
As an RSA-qualified bartender, it is your responsibility to ensure that underage drinkers have no access to alcohol. Underage drinkers are defined by RSA laws as being under the age of eighteen. If you’re caught selling drinks to young people under this age-limit, the consequences are serious. You can lose your job and incur a hefty fine. You’ll also cause irreparable damage to the reputation of your bar. In fact, bars responsible for selling alcohol to minors very rarely survive the scandal, and many are asked to close.
Why is it Important to Prevent Underage Drinking?
Alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of death in Australian teenagers. Statistics show that over ninety-per cent of teens over the age of fourteen have experimented with alcohol. Of that, over half admit to abusing alcohol on a weekly basis. This is an alarming statistic, considering the dangers of drinking alcohol at such a young age. In fact, with peer pressure so rife in within adolescent social circles, alcohol abuse can give rise to a wide range of risks.
Drink driving, for example, has been cited as the single most common cause of adolescent deaths in Australia. Unchecked drinking amongst teens can also lead to the risk of sexual assault and date rape. Other physical risks like brawling can emerge from the feeling of invincibility that alcohol imparts to the teenage drinker – falling and drowning are similar hazards. Continued drinking can even impact on the development of the adolescent brain, with many underage drinkers suffering from Alcohol Related Brain Injury.
Strategies for Bartenders
Licensed bars reserve the right to ask for ID. These days, stricter alcohol laws require bartenders to request identification documents from all patrons under the age of 25. Also, documents should be limited to pre-approved types, like driver’s licences and ID cards.
When asking for ID, be unruffled and polite at all times. Should you come across any underage opportunists, kindly decline to serve them alcohol and offer then a range of non-alcoholic substitutes in their place. If you catch anyone trying to sneak through a few rounds, adopt a harder approach and calmly ask them to leave.
This strategy is particularly difficult during peak bar hours, especially on weekends and during holidays. In fact, it’s very difficult to keep track of potential underage drinkers when the crowds are strong and the orders, numerous. You need to be extra-vigilant during these periods. Remember that the onus is on you to stop minors from drinking – don’t get caught up in the rush!
Another good way of keeping track of minors at your bar is by keeping an incident register. This will help you record all of the times in which minors were refused service. A register can also document other events, such as those in which the police were called to the premises. Registers help managers to see if any of their bar staff have been selling alcohol to minors on the sly.
Unfortunately, teenagers will always try their luck at scoring drinks from bars. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a no-tolerance policy with regards to underage drinkers. Always keep in mind that it’s your job, as bartender, to serve alcohol responsibly.