The St. Joseph Safety Council hosted its first bartender and server training on the over-service of alcohol Monday, at Stoney Creek Conference Center.
The training included speakers from Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Joseph Police Department and the keynote speaker, Dr. Mark Willingham, an expert on alcohol service.
Willingham travels across the country to train bartenders and servers about recognizing signs of over-intoxication and when to stop serving alcohol.
“We want to provide people with those tools they can use on a daily basis so they aren’t just serving alcohol indiscriminately to anyone that asks for a drink,” Willingham said.
Willingham wants to work to prevent bartenders from over-serving to the point where someone leaves drunk and harms themselves or someone else in an accident.
“At least 50 percent of people involved in alcohol-related crashes or arrested for a DWI, were coming directly from a bar or restaurant,” Willingham said.
This is not only a problem nationwide, but Missouri has a higher average than the national average of over-service and drunken driving.
One of the aspects Willingham wanted to make sure bartenders and servers remembered was to not be intimidated by customers and serving them more alcohol in order to get better tips.
“There’s an axiom in the industry that the bigger the tip, the more generous the alcohol pour and that shouldn’t be the case,” Willingham said. “It’s inconsistent with having a safe St. Joseph.”
Sheldon Lyon, executive director for St. Joseph Safety Council, said something that sparked the idea for this training was a fatal accident back in 2016.
“Corbin Watts was a young man that was struck and killed by an intoxicated motorist,” Lyon said. “We want to avoid another tragedy like that.”
Watts’ parents also were at the training to share a few words about their son and the over-service issue.
“It really hits home that there are tragedies if we do overserve, and why it’s so important not to,” Lyon said.
The Safety Council hopes to continue reaching out to local restaurants and bars to provide the knowledge and proper training.