Intoxication and RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol)

RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) staff should understand that a person is in a state of intoxication if their speech, balance, or coordination is noticeably affected, and there are reasonable grounds for believing this is the result of the consumption of liquor.

Once patrons have consumed alcohol to a level where they are showing signs of intoxication, their normal judgement is impaired. Therefore, it is up to the wait staff, not the customer, to decide whether or not they should be served.

People generally progress through a number of stages when continuing to consume alcohol:

  1. A noticeable change in behaviour
  • Becoming loud and boisterous
  • Suddenly using offensive language
  • Slurring or mistakes in speech


  1. Lack of judgement
  • Being careless with their money
  • Complaining about the strength of a drink
  • Suddenly becoming bad tempered or aggressive
  • Annoying other customers


  1. Clumsiness
  • Spilling drinks
  • Fumbling with cigarettes
  • Difficulty in picking up change
  • Trouble removing items from a wallet or purse
  • This stage is where people are becoming visibly affected by alcohol, and is often viewed as the transition into being intoxicated


  1. Loss of coordination
  • Swaying and staggering
  • Difficulty in walking straight
  • Bumping into furniture and other patrons


  1. Decreased alertness
  • Delays in responding to questions
  • Drowsiness
  • Not hearing or understanding what others are saying
  • Sleep in a corner or on the bar


WARNING: RSA Online (Responsible Service of Alcohol) Staff must be alert to the fact that certain types of disabilities can create the impression that a customer is intoxicated. Dealing with people with disabilities requires care, sensitivity, and professionalism. In most cases, it is normally a combination of these signs in conjunction with a person smelling strongly of liquor that would indicate that a person is intoxicated.

To learn more on how to deal with intoxicated persons, visit our RSA QLD (Responsible Service of Alcohol) online short courses Australia.