The difference between intoxication and disabilities

Responsible Service of AlcoholWhile it is an essential part of every hospitality worker responsible for serving alcohol to refuse service to intoxicated patrons, are you confident about differentiating the signs between intoxication and a disability?  The main issue is that some physical signs of a disability can easily be mistaken for intoxication, and it is important that you are not held accountable for discriminatory behaviour.

Past incidents in the media highlight the need for staff to act with sensitivity and respect when serving patrons who have a physical or mental disability.

Some easily identifiable signs of a disability may include the use of a mobility device such as a wheel chair, or the presence of a companion responsible of assisting the person, or the presence of a guide dog.

In Australia, it is unlawful to refuse access to a public premises to a person based on their physical and/or mental impairment. It is important to pay attention to other signs that indicate intoxication such as the smell of alcohol on a person, the time they have spent at your venue and the drinks they may have been consuming – such as shots as opposed to low- or mid-strength beer. 

It is important before refusing service to a patron to rule out they are not affected by a disability which exhibits the same signs as intoxication. Take the time and ensure that you are giving each patron the same right to enjoy their night and consume alcohol responsibility – don’t discriminate against persons who are disabled.