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Selling alcohol responsibly should be the top priority for liquor-licensed businesses. Owners, managers and employees all have a role in keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors and those who are apparently intoxicated.
Owners and managers
There is no one in a better position to promote compliance than the owners and managers of a liquor-licensed business.
You should regularly speak with employees about checking ID, refusing sales to apparently intoxicated patrons, preventing disorderly conduct and other liquor laws. It is imperative that you have written policies addressing your expectations. If you see an employee merely glancing at an ID or serving someone who looks intoxicated, intervene and remind them of your expectations. By consistently following state liquor laws and your own policies, you can minimize liability to yourself, your employees and your customers.
Responsible Vendor Program
The Responsible Vendor Program is a free, self-monitoring program that rewards retail licensees who take positive steps to prevent the sale and service of alcohol to minors and apparently intoxicated persons.
Retail licensees may apply for this program if they have a spirits retailer license and have no public safety violations within the past two years.
Bouncers, bartenders, servers and cashiers are the first line of defense when it comes to selling alcohol responsibly. They should be vigilant when checking ID, understand that they must refuse to sell someone alcohol if they are apparently intoxicated or under 21, and know how to handle situations that could lead to harm, such as a fight between patrons.
Employees should understand state liquor laws and their company's policies about alcohol sales. They can get a good overview during free “Responsible Alcohol and Tobacco Sales” classes offered regularly by WSLCB enforcement officers. The classes cover topics such as checking ID and identifying the signs of intoxication.
Also, employees that serve or supervise the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption must have a current Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) Permit. More information about MAST permits is available on the Licensing Services page.
Checking identification is an important part of ensuring legal sales. Businesses can choose which forms of acceptable IDs they will allow and many businesses develop policies about which kinds of ID can be accepted.
Acceptable forms of ID:
Driver License, ID Card, or Instruction Permit issued by any U.S. state or Canadian province
Washington Temporary Driver License
U.S. Military ID
Merchant Marine ID
Washington State Tribal Enrollment Card
A valid ID must show:
Date of birth
Signature (except U.S. Military IDs)
Expiration date (except Tribal Enrollment Cards)
Identifying signs of intoxication
If a customer is showing signs of intoxication, a business should refuse to sell them alcohol. The customer may stay at the business as long as they are not drinking alcohol.
|Slurred speech||Bumping into things|
|Swaying, staggering, or stumbling||Complaining about drink strength|
|Unable to sit straight||Argumentative|
|Bloodshot, glassy eyes||Agressive of belligerent|
|Loud, noisy speech||Crude behavior|
|Lack of focus and eye contact||Depressed or sullen|
|Disheveled appearance||Crying or moody|
|Overly friendly to other guests||Rambling train of thought|
|Careless with money||Spilling drinks|
|Buying rounds for strangers||Drowsiness|
|Annoying other guests and employees||Clumsy|