Of the two things the LC likes to bust venues for, one is easy to identify, the other is (potentially) difficult. The first, of course, is selling to someone under 21 years old. Setting aside fake IDs, it’s pretty simple: check the DOB on the driver’s license and do the math.
The second thing is over-serving, or serving to someone who’s already drunk. That’s a lot more subjective. Sure, blood alcohol level is scientific (though not foolproof), but unless you’re going to give every customer a breath test, it falls to judgment, experience and instinct—three things that are tough to apply consistently.
The only new case listed on the docket for this month’s Adjudication Board meeting is a charge of serving to an intoxicated individual (details next week), so now seems like a good time to parse the issue.
The Rules of the Liquor Commission say a person is “under the influence of liquor” when they have “consumed intoxicating liquor sufficient to impair at the…time under inquiry the person’s normal mental faculties or ability to care for oneself and guard against casualty, or sufficient to substantially impair…that clearness of intellect and control of oneself which the person would otherwise normally possess.”
That’s a mouthful, but it’s also almost uselessly opaque. What concrete signs can servers look for to determine if someone’s had one (or four) too many?
For an answer, let’s head to the Mainland. On its Web site (lcc.ne.gov), the Nebraska LC provides a list of “50 possible signs of visual intoxication.” A few of the better (read: funnier) ones include: “overly animated or entertaining”; “drinking alone”; “mussed hair”; “lighting more than one cigarette at a time”; and (this one is probably a slam-dunk) “can’t find mouth with glass.” Maui Time Weekly, Jacob Shafer