Spot the behavioral and physical signs of intoxication to know when to stop serving.
Are you able to determine when someone is intoxicated? Knowing the 5 Stages of Intoxication can help alcohol servers and bartenders count drinks and effectively observe customer behavior.
Learn the typical Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) per number of drinks someone has had, and the common behavioral and physical signs for each stage of intoxication. The ability to spot these signs can help you prevent overserving — and can help you avoid potentially harmful, and even fatal, situations.
Stage 1: Sobriety
Number of drinks: 1 / BAC level: .02%
At this stage, there are typically no noticeable signs of intoxication.
Stage 2: Euphoria
Number of drinks: 2 to 3 / BAC level: .04%
Behavioral Signs In the Euphoria Stage, a person may show lowered inhibitions and become more chatty and self-confident. Signs of impaired judgement can include becoming more careless with money, making irrational statements and showing difficulty in coordinating precise movements.
- flushed face
- increased sweating
Stage 3: Intoxication
Number of drinks: 4 to 7 / BAC level: .08%
Alcohol servers and bartenders must remember that this is the legal limit for intoxication. When someone reaches this stage, they are no longer legally able to drive.
Behavioral Signs When a person reaches the Intoxication Stage, their level of alertness has decreased. Their movements may be slow, uncoordinated and unbalanced, and their reaction time has slowed down. Judgment and control are impaired, and the person may experience blurred vision, sleepiness, confusion and even short-term memory loss.
- bloodshot eyes
- sloppy clothes, hair, makeup
Stage 4: Severe Impairment
Number of drinks: 8 to 11 / BAC level: .17%
Behavioral Signs When a person reaches this stage, they are already at twice the legal driving limit. Their emotions are heightened, which could lead to unpredictable, aggressive or violent behavior. Their confusion is more pronounced and they can have difficulty speaking clearly or distinguishing between objects. Their movements are even more impaired as they become more prone to dizziness and falls. A person in the Severe Impairment Stage can also become numb and insensitive to pain.
- slouched and appearing tired
- droopy eyelids
- odor of alcohol noticeably emanating from the person
Stage 5: Stupor
Number of drinks: 12 / BAC level: .25%
Reaching the Stupor Stage can be very dangerous and even fatal for a person. At this stage, 1 out of every 400 milliliters of blood in the body is alcohol. Alcohol poisoning can occur and key body systems can begin to shut down, at which point the person should get medical care or risk dying.
- shallow and weak breaths
- plummeting body core temperature
- heart rate slowed to dangerous levels
As a bartender or alcohol server, it’s your responsibility to stop service once you suspect that someone is over their limit. Not only is it illegal for people to drive when they have reached a BAC of .08% or higher, becoming too intoxicated can have dangerous and fatal consequences for not only the individual, but the people around them.
Get all the tools you need to understand how alcohol affects the body, along with alcohol safety best practices and tips, when you take Userve’s Alcohol Server / Seller Training.