Serving Under the Influence

James C. Roberts, Rutgers University

The present study supports past research showing that aggression in barrooms is highly predictable on the basis of situational variables found in these establishments. Direct observations of 25 barrooms in Hoboken, New Jersey identified alcohol consumption among bartenders and other servers of alcohol as a major predictor of aggression. The consumption of alcohol among servers was linked to confrontations with patrons and other bar staff, as well as increased service of alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers. Service of alcohol to intoxicated customers resulted in increased levels of intoxication in barrooms, and was also a significant predictor of aggression in the present study. Prevention strategies should include strict enforcement of legislation prohibiting both the sale of alcoholic beverages to intoxicated customers and the consumption of alcoholic beverages by bar staff. Responsible beverage service programs, which attempt to prevent intoxication and aggression by training bar staff to serve responsibly, are likely to be ineffective in those barrooms that permit servers to consume alcohol while working.

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Updated 05/20/2006