The service of alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is not only against the law, but it could lead to civil liability against a bar or restaurant. It is important for bartenders to protect themselves by understanding Colorado’s laws relating to serving visibly intoxicated guests.
What is Visible Intoxication?
While visible intoxication is not defined by Colorado law, it is generally described as a state of intoxication accompanied by a perceptible act or series of acts which present clear signs of intoxication. While it is impossible to know a guest’s blood alcohol content (BAC), bartenders are required to recognize indicia of intoxication. Below are some of the common signs of visible intoxication.
- Bloodshot, glassy, or watery eyes
- Flushed face
- Droopy eyelids
- Blank stare or dazed look
- Twitching or body tremors
- Disheveled clothing
- Thick, slurred speech
- Loud, noisy speech
- Unusually fast or slow talking
- Slow response
- Repetitive statements
- Bravado, boasting
- Making irrational statements
- Annoying others
- Aggressive or belligerent
- Obnoxious or mean
- Inappropriate sexual advances
- Overly friendly to others
- Swaying, staggering, or stumbling
- Careless with money
- Extreme or sudden change in behavior
- Overly animated
- Crude, inappropriate speech or gestures
- Lack of focus and eye contact
- Difficulty standing up
- Unusual walk
- Difficulty lighting cigarettes
- Lighting more than one cigarette
- Difficulty remembering
- Agitated, anxious
- Grinding teeth
- Odor of alcohol, marijuana or chemicals
- Excessive perspiration
The above-list is non-exhaustive and are therefore not all the possible signs of intoxication. If a guest shows one or more of the aforementioned signs, or they have a sudden change in behavior, there could be a strong indication the guest is intoxicated.
How do you Prove Visible Intoxication?
In a Dram Shop case, the burden is on the injured party to prove a bar or restaurant served a drunk driver while visibly intoxicated. It is rare for a bartender or server to acknowledge they served a visibly intoxicated person. Oftentimes, therefore, Dram Shop cases are premised on circumstantial evidence. This includes direct testimony from the drunk driver or from witnesses. It can also include receipts from the drunk driver and video footage from the bar, as well as text messages and photographs from the drunk driver’s phone.
One of the most important pieces of circumstantial evidence is the toxicologist report. The toxicologist has specific education with drugs and alcohol, and is in the best position to discuss how drugs and alcohol can impact a person’s behavior. The toxicologist will deliver an unbiased, accurate accounting of the amount of alcohol the drunk driver consumed and the predicted consequences of a certain level of intoxication, as well as an explanation of how these factors pertain to a specific case.
Contact a Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer
At Bowman Law LLC, we provide legal representation to drunk driving accident victims and their loved ones throughout Colorado. Our lawyers understand the legal nuances involved in these types of cases. Please contact the Colorado personal injury law firm of Bowman Law LLC, at 720.863.6904 or email us for your free and flexible initial consultation.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.