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Colorado Liquor Liability

If you own and operate a bar, lounge, tavern or restaurant where alcohol is served in the state of Colorado, you need to understand your responsibilities when it comes to liquor liability. Although it’s always a good, ethical practice to make sure your customers and guests don’t overindulge at your establishment, Colorado is one of 30 states in which restaurant and bar owners can be held liable for damage done by an inebriated customer.


Establishments that serve alcohol in Colorado can only be held liable for cases in which alcohol is served either to an obviously intoxicated individual or to an individual under legal drinking age. This means that you, your bartenders and wait staff need to do more than simply check customer IDs. Your servers have a responsibility to identify inebriated guests and to serve alcohol responsibly.

All bartenders and wait staff at your establishment should be trained to recognize warning signs. Signs of intoxication include

  • Slurred or delayed speech
  • Inability to focus the eyes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Decreased awareness
  • Staggering
  • Extreme friendliness or disregard for personal space
  • Inhibited motor skills

In addition to recognizing signs of intoxication, your staff needs to be able to serve in such a way as to prevent over-consumption. Customers in a good mood who are consuming alcohol slowly throughout a meal generally can be served with confidence. A server should proceed with caution when a customer consumes alcohol, especially hard liquor, rapidly. Other warning signs include signs that the customer is feeling depressed or upset, has been celebrating with abandon, or shows any indication of motor or speech impairment. When the customer crosses the line of intoxication, shows signs of aggression, or appears intent on becoming quickly inebriated, it is best to cut off servings of alcohol.

Although prevention is the best insurance, sometimes even the best bartenders and wait staff mistakenly overserve customers. Make sure your Colorado restaurant or bar has a liquor liability insurance policy in place to minimize expenses and damage to your business reputation. Learn more by contacting Southern Colorado Insurance Center.


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