Alcohol Charts See Frequent Use

December 18, 2006
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LANSING — How much is too much? The Liquor Control Commission is providing two newtools to help alcohol servers determine when to serve — and when to stop — this holiday season.

The wallet-sized alcohol-impairment chart and bright red "We I.D" button are intended to help servers avoid over-serving a customer or selling to a minor.

State law prohibits serving customers past the point of intoxication. Bars and restaurants may be fined up to $300 and, in drastic cases, have their liquor license revoked, said Angela Simpson, Web editor and publications manager for the LCC.

The charts calculate a person's weight and the number of drinks consumed to estimate his or her blood alcohol content, Simpson said. For example, a 140-pound woman should be cut off after two drinks in a one-hour period.

"It's just a guide to help servers know about how intoxicated they are," Simpson said.

Becky Thorton, part owner of tb's Tavern in Greenville, said the card would be useful in assessing when guests have had too much, a condition that's often hard to determine.

Servers "have to be aware of what is going on," Thorton said. For example, some customers drink before coming in, a factor that must be considered before serving more alcohol, she added.

Also, Michigan law requires a restaurant or bar to have at least one alcohol-certified employee on staff at all times when alcohol is served.

Such employees are trained inthe ServSafe Alcohol Certification program of the Michigan Restaurant Association.

"There are essentially two things we're really looking for when we're serving our guests alcohol," said Andy Deloney, director of public affairs for the association. "One, that they are of age, and two, that they are visibly not intoxicated."

The buttons and impairment charts will help make that determination easier, Deloney said.

"Every little bit counts," he said, adding that business picks up this time of year between holidays, celebrations and football bowl games.

Though servers still need to be careful to ask for identification, the I.D. buttons are intended to discourage patrons under 21 from even trying to buy.

Simpson said, "Any time there's a threat of punishment, it will diminish the risk."

A $5,000 grant to the commission from the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association is paying for the charts and buttons.

"We now have a little bit of money to do some more creative efforts," Simpson said.    

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