Please Don’t Drink and Walk?

be careful out there

be careful out there

Every server and bartender knows that we should not be serving drinks to people who are already drunk. We have all heard horror stories about how restaurants have lost their liquor license because someone was over-served and then went off driving drunk into the night. Well, here’s a story from Oklahoma that is all kinds of fucked up.

A man walks into a bar and by the time he leaves, he has bought six Miller Lite beers and two alcoholic drinks. The bartenders know him as a regular and they also know that he walks to the bar and then walks home, so they don’t have to consider him driving home drunk. The man is named Sammy Ford. After Ford leaves, he is hit by not one, but two cars as he tries to cross a street. The first driver, an 18-year old girl, gets scared and goes home where her parents call the police. Another man also hits Ford but he stays at the scene. Sadly, Ford died. When it came time to file charges, who do you think the prosecutors went after? The little girl who just ran over a man in the street and then went home? Nope. How about the man who ran over him a second time? Nope. Let’s see, who else could they charge with this man’s death? Hey, I know, what about the two bartenders? Yeah, charge them! So that happened and now two servers are facing charges for the death of a man.

All together now: fuck that!

Okay, if the two servers knew that the man wasn’t planning on driving, doesn’t that take some of the responsibility off of them? Also, we can only stop serving if someone appears to be drunk, right? What if this Mr. Ford guy had a liver like a champion and six beers and two cocktails didn’t even seem to phase him? How much does Mr. Ford weigh and how much does it take for him to get drunk? Shouldn’t the customer take some responsibility? What about those total lightweights who drink one wine spritzer and end up getting sloppy drunk? (I’ve heard people like that exist…) How is a server supposed to know that we shouldn’t be giving a customer like that a second drink? Also, do we know that Mr. Ford drank all of those drinks? Isn’t it possible that he was one of those guys who bought a couple of beers for his friend at the bar? If he was such a regular, it doesn’t seem that out of the question? Is there video footage of him drinking very single drink that was on his bill? And even if there is, if he seems sober and he’s not driving, how could anyone suspect that he would try to cross a busy intersection by crawling though it?

The bartenders have attorneys and only time will tell what will become of their fate. It just seems like a terrible accident to me and no one’s fault. Well, the girl who hit him with her car and then went home certainly didn’t help the situation and neither did the second guy who hit him with his car. Maybe we can all agree that the bartenders gave him plenty to drink, but if they knew he was walking home, I can’t see how it’s so much their fault. Servers are not psychics. We don’t know what is going to happen to people after they leave our section. If we could see the future, do you think any of us would be wearing a goddamn apron for a living? I am not debating that what happened to Mr. Ford wasn’t awful. It was. It is. A man is dead because he had too much to drink and made some bad decisions, but if prosecutors are looking for someone to blame, there are plenty of people who may bear some responsibility. I bet at least one of Mr. Ford’s family members have said before, “Gee, Sammy drinks a lot. We should talk to him about that before he gets himself in trouble.” Or maybe there was someone at the bar who told him, “Aww, don’t go yet, Sammy. Have a shot with me.” Most of all, Mr. Ford had some responsibility. If he was still alive, what charges would he be facing? Attempted murder on himself? Public intoxication? Walking while intoxicated?

Overall, it’s a sad situation but I hope the servers are not the ones who pay the price. Putting two bartenders in jail is not going to bring this man back to the living. It may send a message to servers everywhere to cut people off a little bit sooner, but what are we going to do when we try that and someone tells us, “Oh, I’m not drunk at all. I always drink this many beers. Besides, I live two blocks away and I’ll give you my keys so you’ll know I won’t get behind the wheel of a car.” Chances are, we’ll say, “Oh, since you’re not driving, sure. Here’s another beer.”

28 thoughts on “Please Don’t Drink and Walk?

  1. Anonymous

    This is so many different kinds of fucked up. The only possible explanation I can think of is that the girl who hit him is either related to or sleeping with someone on the prosecution.

  2. PAO

    We have so much of this happen where I work, people come in and get drunk and the servers nor the bartenders say anything because they are “regulars”. Try cutting off an intoxicated person and see what happens. Unless it becomes a huge issue everyone gives the blind eye and lets it happen. As servers we’re resposible for taking classes about serving alcohol and knowing when too much is too much. Theres also so much of this we dont know. Maybe he wasn’t that drunk but was on his phone and crossed the street and didn’t see cars coming. I’ve almost hit a couple of pedestrians who were RECKLESSLY walking and crossing the street and dont bother to look and they’re sunken into their game of Angry Birds. Yet if you hit them, you’re the reckless driver.

  3. SammySue

    It can be really hard to tell where the “drunk” line lies. Most vips (very intoxicated persons) DON’T seem drunk. They speak clearly with complete words, they walk in a straight line (when you have to the opportunity to see them walk which isn’t a lot) and often consume their beverages over the course of several hours. The guideline is 3 drinks an hour but then you have drinks that qualify as 2 drinks, caffeine accelerating alcohol absorption, fat getting drunk faster than muscle, size of the person, etc. and even if you are sticking to the guideline of 3 per hour if you only filter out 1 drink per hour and they’re there for 3 hours, by the time they leave there’s still 6 drinks unprocessed which may not even hit them/show symptoms until after they leave the establishment. Then there’s the girls that act drunk before you ever put a drink in their hand because they’re 21 and like attention. Then, in some states, there’s the rule that 21-24 year olds can’t drink with their underage friends present at the same table. Now factor in things like bar hopping on a strip. I worked at an establishment where 2 women would hop around the casino getting their 3 drinks/hour from each server. 10 cocktail sections, 4 restaurants, and 1 standalone bar means they could down the equivalent of a bottle long before the alcohol processed and long before anyone figured out how much they’d had.

    Now factor in that cutting people off means several things for us: angry possibly aggressive customer, jerk friends who will buy drinks and give them to the cut-off vips, no tip (which is our livelihood much as people don’t believe in auto-grats given the new legislation), managerial complaints (some of which may serve them if they “seem fine” even though you know the drink count). VIP means VISIBLY intoxicated person, implying that you can’t cut them off til the symptoms show which is the approach most managerial staff take when you say you want to cut someone off.

    Quite frankly, responsibility falling on the server is ridiculous. Unless you’re going to equip every server with a breathalyzer and make people blow before ordering, there is no science to it. There’s barely math to it. At the end of the day, The bartenders probably did serve him ~3/hour per their training and he probably walked out the door on his own two feet in a straight line with a “night guys, cya tomorrow”. He could have ordered less, they oculd have served him less, but the girl that hit and run has no excuse because it is HER fault he got hit a second time.

  4. Joe

    A lot of the alcohol laws are insane. People must be held responsible for their actions. You can’t blame the car salesman for selling a car that someone crashes into a crowd with.
    Here in AZ, if someone walks into your bar drunk, you become responsible for them, even though you haven’t served them a drink.
    The law says you have 30 minutes to find him a safe way home, or you must call the police.
    Why should I be responsible for this guy I never served?

  5. Chelsea

    I have to agree with Tom and Dawn. As someone who has worked managing a bar and working at a liquor store you become liable once you over serve the person. What happened if after he was served the 6 beers and 2 drinks he leaves and a cop happens to see him walking out clearly drunk and they arrest him for public intoxication. The cop would then most likely go back to the bar and ask who over served the guy and they’d end up getting in trouble. Its about the safety of the person and the people around them including yourself. Yes people make their own decisions but someone drunk is no longer thinking with a clear head. You, the sober person, should be there to help them make the right choices.

  6. Tom

    Normally, I enjoy reading Bitchy Waiter, but I’m afraid he’s got it all wrong here. First, there’s SO much we don’t know about the story. (How long was he there? Was he eating? etc.) Still too much to know before we can start assessing who gets what blame. Second, his BAC was .30. I’m sorry, but even the titanium-liver set would have a hard time concealing ALL of their behavoiral cues carrying a .30 around. Third, your comparison of the 1 spritzer-drinking “sloppy drunk” makes absolutely no sense. In that case, since they’d be obviously “sloppy”, they’d be cut off after the one drink. Then, even if Spritzer-Boy (Eliot Spritzer?) got his brains splattered all over the sidewalk, they’d look at the bill for one drink, know that he had been cut off, and NOT hold the staff responsible. It’s called Reasonable Measures, and it’s all that it would’ve taken on the girls’ (and establishment’s) part to put them in the clear. Fourth, your closing shot, “Oh, since you’re not driving, here’s another beer.” is dangerous and, again, an illogical conclusion to draw, saying that this line is a result of laws put in place to ensure that establishments are looking out for the safety of the guest. Yours is a weak argument. How do I know? You can’t make it look strong unless you hold it up to what others could’ve/should’ve done. Look, everyone has some measure of responsibility here, and everyone’s responsibilities are different. Trying to excuse someone’s culpability here by saying what they did (or didn’t do) pales in comparison to what others did or didn’t do only weakens your argument. Like I said, I nrmally love reading Bitchy Waiter. As a 24 year vet of the hospitality industry, I can relate to pretty much everything posted on here. Bitchy Waiter had an opportunity to take a position FOR guest safety and responsible serving. Unfortunately, he went for the cheap laugh, and endorsed how NOT to approach your job in a professional manner.

  7. dawn

    It doesnt matter if they are walking or driving…a vip is a vip…. I am sorry for the loss of life …and his family. I use to work in a hotel…ppl just had to walk to a room…but we still had to watch what we served them

  8. Tone

    You just know that MADD or some wacky temperance revival group is somehow mixed up in this. It’ll never stand up in court (I hope!).

  9. Joe

    The bitch that hit-and-run pisses me off immediately, because I used to work with someone who got hit and nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver. He’s fine now, but they really need to charge the 18 year old skank and the other guy. Also, restaurants should be required (if they’re not) to train their servers on knowing when to cut somebody off. I understand that this isn’t really the least bit scientific so blaming the bartenders seems a little heavy-handed–THAT BEING SAID, we don’t know the whole story. And you yourself BW, know that there is ALWAYS more than meets the eye.

  10. SlumSlut

    If I watch where I’m going, instead of, for example, texting on my cell phone, I tend to notice shit like human beings staggering or passed out in the middle of the street. And I have come across this probably about oh, half a dozen or so times in my life. Not once did I ever think about or come close to driving over said human being, accidentally nor intentionally, drunk or not drunk. Instead, if the situation called for it, I’d stop my vehicle and call 911.

    Am I over-thinking this, or am I under-thinking this? Someone give me a reality-check, please.

    1. renee

      yes but that’s not always the situation. In my taxi drivers situation he was paying complete attention to the road but because the man was dressed in dark clothes and it was poorly lighted on the road, he was hard to see, (we were not hard to see) until he literally decided to try to cross ten feet in front of us. Kudos to my taxi driver for being so attentive and swerving onto the grass off the road to avoid the man.

  11. PCC

    Order of responsibility for tragic death of drunken pedestrian (DP):

    1. DP
    2. DP’s family
    3. DP’s family doctor (oops, doesn’t have one anymore under Obamacare)
    4. Hit-and-run driver
    5. Second idiot driver
    6. The Surgeon General of the United States
    7. August Busch IV
    8. Vladimir Smirnoff
    9. The bartenders

    Phew! That was thirsty work. I need a drink. Think I’ll walk down to the pub. On second thought, may be safer if I drive.

  12. White Russian

    Who knows if he had a few at the house before going out? What if he was at some other bar before the one that “overserved” him? What if he had more drinks at the other bar after leaving this one? WTF?
    Why DUI is a crime and being reckless and shitfaced but not driving is ok? Lets just get rid of DUI charge and start charging all the bartenders and salespeople at liquor stores. Its all our fault. Blame it on us. Pot of shit, if you ask me.

  13. MysticlyClear

    I think this highlights one of the biggest issues in our society today.. Lack of responsibility. I fail to see how his inability to make good choices should cause these bartenders to spend life in prison. Ridiculous.

    1. Tom

      Read the source article. The official charge is “Serving an Intoxicated Person Alcohol”. I highly doubt the DA will seek life in prison, much less the death penalty. Let’s everyone take it down a few notches.

      1. Rose

        Yes, but apparently in Oklahoma it’s a felony. Try getting a job after this mess or filling out a rental or mortgage application with a felony charge on your record. We haven’t even gotten to the possible civil court repercussions they could face because of these stupid laws.

        1. Tom

          A.) The laws aren’t stupid, they’re designed so businesses can safely sell a product to the American public.
          B.) The decision to pursue or not pursue a civil complaint in no way will be influenced by the application of the criminal statute. Two completely separate items.

          1. Karma Girl

            The laws are open to interpretation. And when the guy holding the gavel is a stickler looking to make an example of someone, innocent people suffer.

        1. renee

          Also there have been many times I KNEW i was drunk, and my friends all told me, wow you seemed fine you weren’t acting drunk at all and I laughed and said, nope I pretty gone..So agin, it is a matter of percetion. When someone starts slurring their words, stumbling or falling off of barstools, yeah you can tell they are drunk but some people conduct themselves very well and it does not show.

          1. renee

            Also there have been many times I KNEW i was drunk, and my friends all told me, wow you seemed fine you weren’t acting drunk at all and I laughed and said, nope I pretty gone..So again, it is a matter of perception. When someone starts slurring their words, stumbling or falling off of barstools, yeah you can tell they are drunk but some people conduct themselves very well and it does not show.

  14. Shawnabcdefg

    I would think that the girl would be most at fault. First of all, it was a HIT AND RUN, which is super illegal. And second, most likely if she hadn’t fled the scene, the man wouldn’t have been run over a second time. That’s the clear choice to me. I work at an establishment that serves alcohol and it is TERRIFYING to think that someone might buy too much alcohol, and then you get the blame if anything happens to them.

    1. renee

      Wow I didn’t think of that…it’s true he wouldn’t have been hit a second time had she not left…it’s gotta stop being blamed on the bartenders/establishments. It’s simply a tragedy that this happened but I don’t even think blame should be assigned in this case. I think people just WANT to blame someone, and get money out of their family member’s tragedy. Not due to greed necessarily, but due to feelings of anger, grief, etc. I remember one time around midnight, I was too buzzed to drive, so I left my jeep and walked home, very short distance, only over a bridge basically, ON A SIDEWALK PROTECTED FROM THE ROAD BY A STONE DIVIDER, NO CROSSING ANY STREETS AT ALL. I would’ve waited too long for a cab, and I enjoy walking more anyway. Cops stationed in a parking lot just before my home stopped and harassed me. I wasn’t to the point where I was stumbling or anything I just knew I shouldn’t drive. They harassed the shit out of me, detained me, asking for my ID, running it through their computers and questioning me. I told them I had a few, did the right thing and left my car and why are they giving me such a hard time? They were like, we are only concerned about your safety, BUT THEY REALLY WERE NOT NICE OR CONCERNED IF THAT WAS THE TRUTH. I know this is off topic but man I dislike cops most of the time. Another time, after hours, I was painting the inside of my boss’s restaurant after hours, all light on, doors open to air out the smell, and cops came in, guns drawn and pointed at me, as I’m just finishing up and holding a roller in one hand and a WET PAINT sign and scotch tape to hang it. I was so freaked, asked them to please stop pointing their guns in my face. They thought someone was breaking in because it was after hours, about 7 or 9 oclock pm, but yeah they took my ID made me wait while they ran it, and I called my boss to confirm to them why I was really there, but man that pissed me off. I HAVE NEVER HAD A GUN pointed in my face before and it was very very unsettling. Ok sorry back to the topic, I don’t think anyone should be charged in this tragedy, there were too many factors that contributed. The establishment knew he wasn’t driving, the second driver, I’m sure didn’t see the man crossing, if it nighttime and the man was in dark clothing and not paying attention to the traffic, possibly the girl should just be reprimanded for leaving as he might had not been hit a second time had she stayed and called an ambulance. I was in a cab one night here where he had to swerve off of the road to avoid hitting a man crossing slowly not looking, in dark clothes, he was visibly drunk. The cab driver was all shaken up thinking it was his fault and I told him, No. You reacted quickly and safely, I never saw the man til the last minute either. It is mostly the alcohol influenced person’s responsibility to be careful and pay attention when crossing while drunk, THEY make the choice to not stop drinking when they know they’ve had enough, because that time comes before they are too shitfaced to make that decision any longer. If a man gets that drunk at home and kills himself at home due to a drunken accident, are they going to go to the place he bought the booze when sober and charge them, saying, you shouldn’t have sold him that big a bottle of rum because it’s too much for him to drink? No. We don’t know how many people are drinking from it, same as the situation in this post. That man could’ve been buying a buddy drinks at the same time he was purchasing his 🙁

    2. Leslie

      That’s part of our job as servers…do not over serve anyone. Doesn’t matter if they are walking (they could take their car later). They could freeze to death when they can’t make it inside ( happened ). As a server/bartender it is our responsibility to keep track of how many drinks a person has and if they seem at all intoxicated. If there judgment is off after a few drinks, it’s our job to protect ourselves and them and not over serve them.

  15. Kali

    We had a similar situation here years ago where the drunk person took a cab, yes, TOOK A CAB home (arguably the safest way you could ever get home from a bar) but couldn’t get into their house once they were dropped off and froze to death (imagine temperatures like North Dakota, but colder) and I believe there was talk of charging the server/establishment (sorry, don’t recall what became of it).

    It doesn’t take much to appear sober enough to order a drink – I’ve never understood why the responsibility lies with the server/bartender – only adults are legally allowed to drink, as an adult you need to take responsibility for your own actions.

  16. Joeinvegas

    We have someone killed almost every week here in Vegas while crossing the street, from kids hit by the scool bus they just exited to people in wheelchairs. Most of them during the day, and most of them not drinking. Perhaps we can blame those bartenders too?


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