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Restaurants and employee drinking

Msample Sep 5, 2012 09:55 AM

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/s...

While in no way am I condoning DUI, this sets a rather dramatic precedent for an industry where drinking both during the shift and especially after hours is common. Changing this attitude is not going to be easy, especially in small indy places with a close knit staff/ownership.

  1. h
    Harters Sep 20, 2012 03:24 AM

    I was recently in a restaurant in Italy. On the way to using the toilet, I passed the employee notice board which had a long list of the "rules", both for kitchen and front of house staff. I do not have much Italian but do have enough to work out that Rule #1 for all staff was absolutely no alcohol on the premises.

    1. roxlet Sep 12, 2012 06:45 AM

      There is only one thing to say about this: When you drink, you may behave recklessly, which may lead to getting into a wreck. Do not drink and drive. Period. End of story.

      1. babette feasts Sep 11, 2012 11:33 AM

        I agree, it is not going to be easy, especially in small close knit independent restaurants. A shift drink is essentially part of your compensation, in lieu of a better wage, and even better that it builds camaraderie. I rarely have my shift drink but at other restaurants where I worked nights i did much more often. Working for a French chef meant post-service champagne to celebrate staff birthdays and special occasions.

        I think the hard part is that most people don't think of buzzed as drunk. Two or three drinks equals a good buzz, you're not really drunk until five or six, right? Who really knows what the difference between .06, .07, and legally drunk feels like? It used to be 0.1, how buzzed is that? And if you regularly drive after 1 or 2 drinks a little buzz and get home fine, it is easy to convince yourself that you're still fine after a few more. You WANT to be fine, so you decide it is so. Of course it is irresponsible, risky, potentially fatal, but I think it is also our human nature.

        29 Replies
        1. re: babette feasts
          hill food Sep 11, 2012 03:20 PM

          "if you regularly drive after 1 or 2 drinks a little buzz and get home fine, it is easy to convince yourself that you're still fine after a few more. You WANT to be fine, so you decide it is so. Of course it is irresponsible, risky, potentially fatal, but I think it is also our human nature."

          babette - I think that's what I was getting at when I tried to say that after a certain point bad decisions are easily made, even when options are available. I have to make a decision after one or two or none, if I want to get sloshy I can wait until I get home (like that's fun) otherwise I can take turns being the designated driver.

          after years of not driving it is difficult to cut myself off. but it can be done with awareness.

          1. re: babette feasts
            HillJ Sep 11, 2012 03:26 PM

            I won't argue that it's human nature. But when we've had reasons to share a special occasion cocktails were toned down in size and we'd take the party to a better locale. I'm sure that accommodation isn't optimal for every situation but it was done with good decision making in mind. More recently, mocktails have been a common trend & just as delicious. Celebrations I adore...safety I adore more.

            1. re: HillJ
              hill food Sep 11, 2012 07:32 PM

              I don't think there's any apology for bad behavior going on. it is odd as, per. the OP's comment that off-duty (and hopefully responsible) employee behavior is monitored. cause my friends who are sober often order a club soda in a highball with a slice so it looks like a cocktail and they don't get crap from the insecure crowd, but could look bad to a suspicious person. (heck I cultivate self-secure non-drinkers as friends, they cart my happy ass around and I take them to lunch in the next few days or make them dinner)

            2. re: babette feasts
              linguafood Sep 12, 2012 07:26 AM

              Studies indicate that drivers get better at driving inebriated the more often they do it.

              An uncomfortable truth, for sure.

              1. re: linguafood
                HillJ Sep 12, 2012 07:39 AM

                Well that's just the wrong bumper sticker on every level.
                The entire concept makes me uncomfortable irregardless of where that idea comes from.

                1. re: HillJ
                  linguafood Sep 12, 2012 07:47 AM

                  Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly helps -- regardless of what we're talking about.

                  1. re: linguafood
                    HillJ Sep 12, 2012 08:02 AM

                    If I'm following you (& maybe I'm not) you're suggesting that we can practice at handling our drinking better as one solution to drinking & driving.....

                    1. re: HillJ
                      linguafood Sep 12, 2012 08:24 AM

                      I'm not suggesting that as a solution to drunk driving. It's a fact that people get better at doing things the more often they do them, and people drive drunk / tipsy / intoxicated *all* the time -- that's all.

                      In this country, at least outside of metro areas, it would seem this happens mostly due to lack of public transportation, shitty to non-existing taxi service at certain hours, and zoning laws that put many a bar in an area one can only get to *by car*.

                      It would be ironic if it weren't moronic.

                      1. re: linguafood
                        HillJ Sep 12, 2012 08:27 AM

                        Oh I think this happens because people don't know when to say no.

                        But thank you for taking the time to explain what you meant.

                        1. re: linguafood
                          chowser Sep 12, 2012 08:43 AM

                          Yeah, that would include surgeons, but I'll pass on a drunk surgeon either way. It might be hard for my surgeon to find a back up if he decides to drink before my surgery but I'd rather he skip either the drink or the surgery.

                          1. re: chowser
                            linguafood Sep 12, 2012 08:49 AM

                            Better to have steady hands, not shaking from withdrawal, no?

                            '-D

                            1. re: linguafood
                              chowser Sep 12, 2012 08:59 AM

                              Maybe just needs a designated person who can be talked through doing the surgery. "no, not that artery, the one to the right..."

                              1. re: chowser
                                hill food Sep 12, 2012 10:54 PM

                                that's the odd thing many don't get, drunks are actually better with a 'few' than trying to be clean (shakes, temper, etc.) but there is a mighty fine and fatal line.

                                1. re: hill food
                                  chowser Sep 13, 2012 04:40 AM

                                  Which is why it's good that we have other options. I'd prefer a surgeon w/ neither shakes nor has had a few drinks. But then I'm kind of picky about my innards.

                                  1. re: chowser
                                    linguafood Sep 13, 2012 08:18 AM

                                    Driving ain't brain surgery.

                                    1. re: linguafood
                                      chowser Sep 13, 2012 12:04 PM

                                      Yep, in brain surgery you only have the potential to kill one person.

                                      1. re: chowser
                                        hill food Sep 13, 2012 02:13 PM

                                        one at a time anyway.

                                        1. re: hill food
                                          chowser Sep 13, 2012 04:29 PM

                                          I'd hope the hospital would have better quality control than to allow that to happen, or maybe it's just wistful thinking. "Hmmm, the last three patients he's operated on today have died. What on odd string of luck. NEXT!"

                  2. re: linguafood
                    p
                    pedalfaster Sep 13, 2012 05:12 PM

                    I find this very interesting.
                    I have a brain injury.
                    I still have my license.
                    (I am choosing not to drive at this point in time.)
                    My therapist works on repetition constantly!

                    I can totally see where one becomes more successful at any one task simply by doing said task more often.

                    1. re: linguafood
                      EricMM Sep 14, 2012 06:48 PM

                      Way back in my college days there was a study on pot and driving. It found that inexperienced drivers who got stoned and drove were worse than normal. Inexperienced pot smokers also did badly. But experienced potheads who were experienced drivers did pretty well. I'm sure an experienced drunk driver is way better than an inexperienced drunk driver....but, all the same, I'd still like drivers to not be drunk, experienced or otherwise.

                      1. re: EricMM
                        hill food Sep 14, 2012 07:22 PM

                        oh yeah, it's called 'Behavior Modification'

                        but it is best to just abstain or play it light. it's really not so hard to be Mr. or Ms. responsible for a few hours.

                        still, after being around these and other types 25 years ago, I'd say I'd rather be faced with a driver stoned on pot (they're paranoid and drive slow) than a drunk (reckless and clueless) or a meth-head (well - borderline psychotic) harder drugs and there's the danger they'll 'nod-off' behind the wheel.

                        but the topic really is about employers monitoring employees off-hours and presumably legal behavior even when off-site. that is a little much.

                        1. re: hill food
                          m
                          MonMauler Sep 17, 2012 09:22 AM

                          Agreed, hill food. I'm a much better driver when I've smoked a few bowls as compared to when I've done a few shots.

                          There are one or two places I patronize that don't allow employees to drink there after their shift is over. Another couple places don't allow employees at the bar directly after their shift or in their work clothes -- they are allowed to patronize the bar but must wait an hour or so and change into civilian clothes. I think both approaches are totally reasonable. Monitoring otherwise legal behavior off-site, though, is not, and I struggle to think of any local establishment that does this. Still, most of the places I patronize are fine with employees drinking once they are done with their shift, and many don't really mind if they drink while they are working, either.

                          1. re: MonMauler
                            hill food Sep 17, 2012 08:28 PM

                            Mon - I'm not being critical, but a FEW bowls? yeesh, last time I had a hit (12/2012?) it was so dang strong I said "cut me off for at least an hour or two. or ever"

                            and it's a good thing they did. I went home, made rice noodles and called up an old movie on WiFi (My Man Godfrey).

                            1. re: hill food
                              m
                              MonMauler Sep 18, 2012 09:37 PM

                              Ha! Good point, hill food. I actually don't smoke alone all that often, so the few bowls would really be shared amongst some friends in most cases. A bowl by myself would easily have me staring at the tv basically comatose save for the occasional visit to the pantry.

                              Totally get the rice noodles bit, though. This past week I ended up poaching eggs at 3 in the morning after indulging a bit. A few days before that it was pasta in the middle of the night.

                        2. re: EricMM
                          dbrodbeck Sep 15, 2012 02:47 PM

                          Yes, it is called behavioural tolerance, this is a pretty common drug effect.

                        3. re: linguafood
                          k
                          KailuaGirl Sep 18, 2012 01:10 PM

                          We had a case in Honolulu where an off duty cop got smashed, started driving home, hit another car as he ran a red light, killed the driver (a young woman in her 20s), and tried to use the excuse that he had an "experienced liver" so his BAC number wasn't really relevant to his actual state of inebriation. Fortunately he was found guilty. Not sure if there were successful civil suits against the bar, the driver, or anyone else for the victim's wrongful death.

                          1. re: KailuaGirl
                            k
                            KailuaGirl Sep 21, 2012 12:00 PM

                            I now remember the language used - he had a "practiced" liver. Sheesh!

                            1. re: KailuaGirl
                              hill food Sep 21, 2012 05:58 PM

                              too bad in some cases practice does not make perfect.

                              I'm still appalled/amazed that anyone would even attempted that as a defense.

                              1. re: hill food
                                k
                                KailuaGirl Sep 24, 2012 02:23 PM

                                Not just that he had an attorney who was willing to go for it a a defense, he was a cop for cryin' out loud! They really alienated the jury, trying to besmirch the name of the victim who wasn't there to defend herself. It turned out that several years earlier the cop had also been found drunk and asleep one night in a neighbor's house. The neighbors were talked out of pressing charges by the cops who came to the scene and recognized one of their own. The neighbors didn't want to piss off the cops so let that particular adventure in drunken behavior slide. Too bad!

                      2. s
                        soupkitten Sep 9, 2012 07:43 AM

                        i bartended for 10 years. the crew having drinks together after a night of busting ass serving drinks to customers was the norm, part of the culture. so were cabs. we probably knew every driver in one company's fleet by name, and they certainly knew us.

                        it was fun to throw the last patrons out of the nightclub and then zip through cleanup, trash, sanitizing and mopping and bathroom cleanup... and then get to have a well-deserved strong cocktail. the manager would fire up the sound system and lights/video and play the music *we* liked. we could dance, or we could sit down after a long shift standing up. at four in the morning or five in the morning we'd call and order our cabs, the cabbies would "bid" on us by name because the fare would be a guaranteed good tip. bar staff generally took drunk-driving more seriously than members of the general public, because we worked w alcohol every day-- we didn't have the attitude that the rules don't apply to us as a special class, we wanted to be safe (ourselves and others) and unlike some of the professionals who would sit and get blotto at the bar, servers and bouncers and bartenders generally don't have the financial resources to absorb dui legal fees and fines. in ten years i did work with 1 other bartender who had an under the influence-- while boating-- record (one offence), which he very much regretted and took seriously, and as a result he never drove to or from work.

                        1. r
                          rasputina Sep 8, 2012 01:32 PM

                          Oh yes, in my younger years I was a regular at an establishment where employees drinking on the job with patrons was common both during and after hours. I'm sorry that it had to come to someone being killed for this practice to finally get the spotlight.

                          1. j
                            Jeanne Sep 8, 2012 01:45 AM

                            There are very few people here who addressed the original post. Cleobeach came the closest.

                            Msample was talking about employees - not customers.

                            And the answer is absolutely no drinking during work - which I cannot imagine any restaurant doesn't enforce - At least where I'm from. And no drinking after shift. If they want to get together - go somewhere else, get together at someone's place, and have a designated driver or call a taxi.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Jeanne
                              j
                              John Francis Sep 8, 2012 03:44 AM

                              To the contrary, nearly all the posts have addressed one aspect or another of the OP and the linked article. Most of us were indeed talking about employees, not customers. What does your post add that hasn't already been said? I'm not criticizing your post but don't see why you've criticized the others.

                              1. re: Jeanne
                                m
                                MonMauler Sep 8, 2012 04:06 AM

                                I don't understand your criticism, Jeanne. I think just about all of the posts have addressed the OP by discussing employees drinking during work.

                                And no drinking is absolutely not the universal answer. In fact, I find that to be the exception to the rule where I live. At nearly every bar and restaurant I regularly patronize the employees drink while on duty. In fact, the past two days I had liquid lunch at a local restaurant, and I was doing shots with the cooks and servers as they worked. A couple of the servers even joined me at the bar after they were done with their shift.

                                1. re: Jeanne
                                  p
                                  Pegmeister Sep 8, 2012 02:26 PM

                                  While I agree there should be absolutely no drinking at work, there should be no issue with an employee having a drink,dinner etc. after their shift is over. After all, they then become a customer. I have close friend who bartends and her shift is over just around the time I get off from work. The food is great where she works and it's convenient, so why can't we hang out and have dinner plus a few drinks?

                                2. c
                                  cleobeach Sep 7, 2012 10:23 AM

                                  Way back when I tended bar and waitressed, there was a lot of staff drinking during our shifts as well as free booze while we cleaned up. The bartenders didn't drink much because we were too busy but the waitstaff always had alcoholic drinks at our kitchen station. This was 20+ years ago and attitudes have changed since.

                                  I know two bar/restaurant owners and both have no-drinking policies. I am 99.99% sure that it is state law that people serving alcohol aren't allowed to consumer while working. One owner discourages employees from patronizing his place. The other lets employees drink at the bar (as paying customers) after their shifts are over.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cleobeach
                                    bagelman01 Sep 12, 2012 06:03 AM

                                    Cleo,

                                    I tended bar while in college 37 years ago. The owners were drunks who drank all day and night while seated at the bar. We were encouraged to develop relationships with the patrons and get them to buy the bartenders drinks (this way the owners made money on our non-cash tips). If a customer offered to buy me a drink, I would say thanks, show them my glass and say I'm in the middle of one, then I'd turn a glass upside down in front of me and ring the drink up. I'd tell the patron, I'd fill the empty when my drink was gone. At the end of a shift it was not unusual to have a dozen upside down glasses lined up at my station. I then would call the manager over and he'd buy the unfilled drinks back from me at $1 each. This was in the days when a well drink was 65 cents and top shelf 85 cents.

                                    I lived one block from the bar, and most employees lived in walking distance, so drunk driving was not an issue. The bar had 5 rooms upstairs in order to qualify for a hotel liqour license (which allowed earlier sales on Sunday). If a patron was really tanked, we'd walk them upstairs and put them to bed for the night.

                                    But liability (dram shop) laws have changed over the years. I am an attorney but don't practice Personal Injury law, but do represent businesses that have liqour licenses. I insist that these establishments have a NO DRINKING policy for employees, and several have signs posted that say 'Employees are NOT allowed to accept drinks from patrons.'

                                    I don't live within walking distance of any drinking establishments, but if I am going to have more than 1 drink, I make sure that I have a non-drinking companion with me to drive home.

                                    My eldest daughter worked on a river cruise ship. This past June, she was on the Columbia River in Oregon and a shipmate violated the no drinking policy, got loaded, fell overboard and smashed his head on the paddlewheel on the way down. He lived, but will be damaged for life. So drinking and transportation don't mix.

                                  2. HillJ Sep 6, 2012 03:48 PM

                                    Once the laws about driving under the influence changed (ie penalty, who's responsible, the drinking age, serving) I changed with them. That's the responsible and reasonable thing to do...and therein lies the rub...far too many people find being reasonable and responsible too damn difficult...they believe it's always the other guy...until disaster strikes close to home.

                                    So, why would a so-called close knit indy place want to have any part in the potential harm to their staff? Makes no sense.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: HillJ
                                      chowser Sep 6, 2012 04:07 PM

                                      Potential harm to their staff and to others who are on the road. It's too bad it took a law suit to make restaurants take notice, because death didn't deter it.

                                      1. re: chowser
                                        HillJ Sep 6, 2012 04:08 PM

                                        chowser, even penalty doesn't deter people....I wouldn't want to pay a fine for something so idiotic. Let alone lose everything to selfish, self-centered behavior.

                                    2. j
                                      John Francis Sep 6, 2012 03:29 PM

                                      It's the American way - find a business somehow related to what went wrong and sue them. If a jury actually held the restaurant responsible for its employees' conduct on the premises but off duty, and therefore not working for the restaurant at the time, then restaurants may have to tell their employees to have their after-work drinks elsewhere, in self-defense.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: John Francis
                                        MGZ Sep 8, 2012 04:13 AM

                                        It's the "American way" because for the past half millennium, well-considered, well-reasoned, Anglo-American jurisprudence has developed the concept that there is a responsibility to act in certain ways to prevent injury when it can be foreseeable. Clearly, tort law should be replaced by a mass insurance system, including health care, but those who think capitalism actually exists will resist the concept with charges of "socialism". Nonetheless, the best practice for dealing with issues of negligence and harm requires minimization of cost by spreading it as broadly as possible. Ultimately, it is economically inevitable.

                                      2. c
                                        cresyd Sep 6, 2012 05:39 AM

                                        I think that it's good for restaurants to keep a better eye on employees drinking on their premises, partially because if staff don't have to pay for certain drinks or aren't paying full price - then it may be difficult for everyone involved to know how much is being consumed. If someone's been drinking draft beer from a small glass all night, it may be difficult for both the employee or management to determine exactly how much that person has consumed.

                                        However, issues of drunk driving are never as simple as "tell people not to do it". I grew up in Cincinnati - and I literally don't know anyone from that area who has never driven drunk (unless they've never consumed alcohol). Due to the metropolitan sprawl of the area - driving drunk is incredibly common - both "above the legal limit" as well as just very drunk. Speaking from my experience, making restaurants/bars more responsible for their own employees may prevent some incidents - but unless someone takes a more comprehensive look at the transportation realities of places like Cincinnati it's mostly just going to transfer the problem from one establishment (a restaurant) to another (nearby bar). Drunk driving often is not a case of someone being deliberately wreckless, but rather making a decision based on what's easiest for their life immediately (not waiting for a bus/subway or a cab being very expensive).

                                        20 Replies
                                        1. re: cresyd
                                          chowser Sep 6, 2012 02:33 PM

                                          " Drunk driving often is not a case of someone being deliberately wreckless,"

                                          Drunk driving is ALWAYS the case of someone being deliberately wreckless, regardless of the transportation issues of the town. I'm sorry the people you know can't be bothered to wait for a bus but would rather take the risk of killing someone while they're driving drunk. "Easiest for their lives" means everyone else's life is at risk--that's their decision.

                                          1. re: chowser
                                            MGZ Sep 8, 2012 04:05 AM

                                            "Drunk driving is ALWAYS the case of someone being deliberately wreckless . . . "

                                            Yep!

                                            1. re: MGZ
                                              c
                                              cresyd Sep 8, 2012 01:24 PM

                                              While I understand the disagreement, I don't believe that approaching drunk driving from the position of people being selfish/wreckless/dangerous isn't helpful. I think that lots of people who do drive drunk would prefer not to if there were easy alternatives.

                                              If you're going to begin the conversation by talking down to people and not understanding why they're making that choice - then it becomes far more difficult to make sure that fewer people drive drunk.

                                              1. re: cresyd
                                                chowser Sep 8, 2012 02:41 PM

                                                Sorry, given that my aunt and uncle were killed by a drunk driver who didn't have an "easier alternative", it's hard to have sympathy for anyone who chooses to drink and drive. How about the easier alternative that the rest of us do which is NOT drink if you have to drive? Is that easy enough?

                                                How would you begin the conversation with all those you know who choose to put everyone else's life at risk? There are enough messages out there about people killed, lives messed up, etc. What would it take for them to act like responsible citizens? Death of their own?

                                                1. re: chowser
                                                  c
                                                  cresyd Sep 9, 2012 01:15 AM

                                                  I would begin the conversation with all of those I know who choose to put everyone else's life at risk by asking them why they drive drunk? What would make them not drive drunk? What would make not driving drunk more attractive?

                                                  Because what I will tell you is that these are not people who are going to stop going to bars and they're not goign to stop drinking. And so while it's easy to say "you're threatening the lives of other people, you're being wreckless, do you need someone to die in order to stop?" - the response you'll get is a defensive one. I'm not saying to be sympathetic to these people because they deserve it, I'm saying be empathetic because you won't get them to stop if you're not.

                                                  Thinking about things like how to organize cab sharing (a system where you can meet up with other neighbors going to the same area to share a cab going one way so it's cheaper), subsidized cab rides later at night, and encouraging better public transportation - these all need to be part of the drunk driving conversation. Because it's necessary to get people to stop.

                                                  If the point is to say "you're wrong for doing this and should just stop because alcohol isn't good/necessary/etc" - you've lost your audience. The founder of MADD has actually disavowed the organization because she feels it has become for a temperance society as opposed to getting people to stop driving drunk (http://www.drunkard.com/issues/08_02/...).

                                                  I 100% agree with everyone who wants all drunk driving to stop - but I believe that what gets people to stop is when they have good alternatives on how to get from point home to point drunk and back.

                                                2. re: cresyd
                                                  m
                                                  mpjmph Sep 8, 2012 04:00 PM

                                                  There is a really easy alternative. Don't drink. If someone knows they cannot get home without driving themselves, they should not drink. Period.

                                                  1. re: mpjmph
                                                    p
                                                    pedalfaster Sep 13, 2012 04:46 PM

                                                    And I would argue that the better choice is "don't drive".
                                                    But that is so so hard for so many people.
                                                    As a life long pedestrian and bicycle rider I am always shocked and saddened at the notion that driving a car is somehow a "right".
                                                    Drinking, sadly, may have the potential to kill ONE person; the drinker.
                                                    Driving can kill and maim so many more.

                                                    1. re: pedalfaster
                                                      hill food Sep 13, 2012 08:44 PM

                                                      "the notion that driving a car is somehow a "right"

                                                      and even better witnessing the drivers who get angry at bicyclists that blow a redlight. jeez, something bad happening in this equation is going to happen to the cyclist alone.

                                              2. re: chowser
                                                hill food Sep 9, 2012 01:26 AM

                                                I believe cresyd's point is they (we?) often aren't in the position of making a good decision, just the easy one (however tragic that may end) yeah after 20 years of public transit and cabs, and now back in the world of driving, it is hard to say "nope can't do it"

                                                1. re: hill food
                                                  c
                                                  cresyd Sep 9, 2012 02:03 AM

                                                  I think that the assumption that people aren't in the position of making a good decision isn't even always the case. There are times when it is (i.e. someone works at a bar/restaurant, didn't plan on drinking at work but then someone was celebrating an engagement/new baby/etc and shots went around after mythe shift), but there are times when people plan this out ahead of time. I'm going to x sports event, I'm going to x bar/club, I'm going to x party, etc - and they plan to drive there knowing that they need to deal with their car and getting home. So it means believing that "I'll have 3 drinks, I believe I can drive just fine after that, and I'll take x route home which I believe is easier/less crowded". Those are choices made before ever consuming alcohol.

                                                  However, often the other options aren't ones that are well liked. "I won't drink", "I'll find a sober driver", "I'll take a cab", or "I can't go and have fun not drinking so I won't go at all". Those are the groups of people that I think are easiest to reach out to. Someone who is thinking about those things ahead of time, and still chooses to drive. If instead, you can reach them when they're sober and say "here's another option" - I think there are a lot of people who you'd be successful getting not to drive drunk.

                                                  1. re: cresyd
                                                    HillJ Sep 9, 2012 05:04 AM

                                                    But why isn't following the law enough? Why isn't paying a fine enough? How many deterrents does a person need to do the right thing? Even for the individual who drives drunk and makes it home (which remains the majority) without being pulled over or causes an accident, or worse...is society really that incapable of just following the law? YES!

                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                      c
                                                      cresyd Sep 9, 2012 05:29 AM

                                                      Yes, society isn't capable of following the law just because it's the law. But also, not all laws are equally smart in their applications.

                                                      The reason why organizations like MADD originated is that the laws that applied to drunk drivers allowed for many repeat recidivists. Driver's licenses didn't get suspended after repeat offenses, and people would just pay the fine and go on. So the laws needed to be changed so that they worked to make all drivers and people near roadways more safe.

                                                      Right now some significant threats to road safety are driving while distracted (aka texting) or driving tired. And for someone who is the victim of a car accident where the driver was sober but texting or falling asleep - I don't imagine that the victim or family feels any better because at least the driver was sober. Ultimately all driving laws (seat belts, car seats, dui/dwi, having a license) are tied to keeping the driver and the community safe. And if the ultimate point is safety, then the laws and municiple policies should work to actually make people safe.

                                                      1. re: cresyd
                                                        MGZ Sep 9, 2012 07:41 AM

                                                        At bottom, laws don't make people safe and are not capable of doing so. They are created to provide a minimum conduct requirement for actors in a society with the threat of punishment for failure to comply. Individual conduct is the only think that will make other people safe.

                                                        I do agree with you that there are additional measures that municipal, county, and even state governments could take to prevent drunk driving, but in the end, the decision to operate a car after one has been drinking, is that of a single actor. Just because there is a good mass transit system in place, doesn't mean all folks will abandon their American car culture mindset.

                                                        I live in a small town on the Jersey Shore. There is a train line running up the Coast all the way to Manhattan, stopping frequently along the way. My wife and I typically take the train if we want to have fun out in any number of towns in the area. It's easy enough, relatively convenient, and, most of all, safe (Hell, you can even drink on the train!). Many of my friends, neighbors, and relatives, on the other hand, will travel to and from the same places as us, only by car. They seem to think that our approach is laudable, even wise, but very few embrace it (then again, we walk to and from work most days, and are more than willing to go a week without using the car). For me, either being a 'hound, a citizen, or just trying to be entertained, the concept of "thoughtful consumption" is one I embrace (that also entails realizing that it's hard to be thoughtful AFTER certain types of consumption).

                                                        1. re: cresyd
                                                          HillJ Sep 9, 2012 07:58 AM

                                                          I don't have an argument such as yours, cresyd because I find it all a big excuse. Frankly, focusing on employee drinking is enough topic for me before throwing non drinking related driving distractions and offenses further into this discussion.

                                                          We have laws. We are expected to follow them. When we do LESS trouble follows, when we don't articles like the one original posted in this OP result. We read it. We wonder...and we too often move on with our lives per usual.

                                                          The victims or relatives of a loved one clearly understand that losing someone to carelessness, stupidity, selfishness and just plain who gives a shit, can become someone else's nightmare.

                                                          I don't need anything other than the current laws to know how to behave. I believe most people act accordingly and I see nothing but excuse to the contrary argument.

                                                          Many things in life have grey areas, in my world, drinking & driving has no grey area.

                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                            c
                                                            cresyd Sep 9, 2012 10:34 PM

                                                            HillJ, I think we ultimately want the same thing. We just see different paths to get there.

                                                            In your world you see no grey area for drinking and driving - it's not that I see a grey area, I just want to see how to move more people from drinking and driving to not.

                                                            1. re: cresyd
                                                              HillJ Sep 10, 2012 04:41 AM

                                                              cresyd, I'm sure we do agree generally speaking. The easy solution, obey the law. And, I'd be really happy if the law was enforced more consistently; that there was enough manpower on the highway to do that. But for me, it still comes down to how we police our own behavior.

                                                              Does drinking on the job or immediately after work & driving knowing you've had a few too many really make sense? Of course not. You could wind up losing everything over a single decision.

                                                              I enjoy my beer, my cocktail...and I know when & where to handle the safe ride back home.

                                                              It's really that important.

                                                              1. re: cresyd
                                                                chowser Sep 10, 2012 02:58 PM

                                                                I don't think anyone has disputed that options are good to have. The dispute is whether people have responsibility for their own actions and whether they can hold the rest of us hostage and drink and drive until we come up with an easy alternative for them that they can be bothered to follow. It brings me back to my original point here that drunk driving is ALWAYS the case of someone being deliberately wreckless. The person who killed my aunt and uncle years ago, the person who recently killed the father of close family friends and left three fatherless little girls (and repeatedly had DUIs) were deliberately wreckless. Period. We all want to move people from drinking and driving to not. Some of us just see it as an inexcusable action.

                                                            2. re: cresyd
                                                              chowser Sep 9, 2012 08:35 AM

                                                              Editing to say, "Never mind." I can't get into a discussion that defends dunk driving because someone might be killed by a texter.

                                                          2. re: cresyd
                                                            m
                                                            mpjmph Sep 10, 2012 05:28 PM

                                                            I live in a town with plenty of options. The town is reasonably walkable. Public transportation is free, including several late night bus routes serving the bar/restaurant district and the highest density residential areas. There is a late night shuttle service serving the college campus. On top of that, there are plenty of taxi companies, including several that will transport a person and their car. Despite all these options, people still drink and drive. Not just a few either - I see at least one obviously drunk driver on the road pretty much any time I'm driving after 11pm. Fortunately, I live in a mostly quiet college town, and the police can afford to focus on drunk driving during peak times, at least half of the drunk drivers I see are already in the middle of road side sobriety tests. Unfortunately, restaurant and bar employees have easier access to alcohol after hours, and may be driving home while very drunk when the rest of the town is heading out to work/class in the morning.

                                                            Edited to add... I have a degree in health behavior, and spent three years doing alcohol abuse prevention work before I switched over cancer prevention. I fully understand that environmental factors play a large role in behavior change. In the case of drinking and driving, social factors are just as important, if not more important.

                                                            1. re: cresyd
                                                              p
                                                              pedalfaster Sep 13, 2012 04:50 PM

                                                              I find the thought that human beings can not ( or will not?) make good decisions to be fascinating.
                                                              Need to think about and perhaps sleep on this a bit...

                                                              It is kind of amazing to me that we have evolved this far along without solving this puzzle.

                                                      2. EricMM Sep 5, 2012 01:17 PM

                                                        The problem is drinking and driving, not where the drinking occurred. The same accident would have happened had he drunk in the neighboring bar. Overserving is (possibly) not the issue either- he was a sommelier, so he could have helped himself without anyone's knowledge, so if someone at the restaurant served him a drink, they may have believed it was his first and only drink. I think a restaurant's responsibility is more along the lines of accounting for its alcohol, both for business reasons as well as safety, same way as pharmacists have to account for pills dispensed. I see nothing wrong with a restaurant allowing it's staff to drink after work, provided that alcohol is accounted for, and the usual precautions are taken with regard to transport. Certainly if the alcohol is accounted for, overserving can be avoided.

                                                        1. m
                                                          mpjmph Sep 5, 2012 01:07 PM

                                                          In 2005, a former college classmate was hit by a car while she and her guide dog waited for the bus. She was severely injured and was not able to fulfill her post-graduation job plans. Her guide dog was killed. The driver was on his way home from "work" at a local bar. Work ended at 3am or so, but he and some co-workers spent the next few hours drinking at the bar. The police found him in bed with and BAC twice the legal limit. Among other things, he was charged with drinking after hours (last call is 2am here) and spent 4 months in jail. The victim settled with the bar, manager, and another bar employee. The driver did not settle, and a jury awarded the victim $500K. It's been 7 years, I still live in the same town, and will not set foot in that bar.

                                                          1. rockandroller1 Sep 5, 2012 12:29 PM

                                                            I've primarily worked at chains. The indies I worked for were mostly diner/lunch type places so there wasn't even a bar. But all the restaurants I worked at, none of the servers ever drank on the job (the bartenders, occasionally) and we were STRICTLY disallowed from drinking in the restaurant after we got off work. A very long time ago at one of the first serving jobs I had, we were allowed to drink in the bar if you completely changed clothes and so couldn't be easily identified as an employee, but even that was stopped after a few months because the managers were nervous about liability.

                                                            Now, we all just had regular watering holes that were very near work where we would all congregate afterwards, so the issue at hand in the (unfortunate and sad) lawsuit could still theoretically happen every single day across the country even if the rules were strictly enforced. The issue, to me, is overserving. And at your own establishment, I think it's even harder to argue that you didn't know you were overserving someone because you KNOW those people, you work with them all the time so it would be pretty easy to tell. At the bar next door, the onus is on them. And yes, if everyone goes there all the time, they too should be able to tell when they are overserving someone. It's not the popular choice with a group of people you are serving, who are regulars and good spenders and tippers to cut one of them off, but it's better than a huge liability lawsuit and someone ending up critically injured or killed.

                                                            1. m
                                                              MonMauler Sep 5, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                              I agree with you, Msample. At every independent place I've become a regular and gotten to know the staff, there has been rampant drinking by the employees. In general, this would occur after the employee's shift was over, but more than a small percentage drink on the job, as well.

                                                              For my part, there are a large number of employees at the various regular places I go - fine dining to dive bars - that I am happy to share drinks with and commisserate, whether they are on duty or off, and I very often do.

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