BOISE, Idaho — After a man admitted to heavily drinking at several Blaine County bars and later caused a crash that killed three little girls, KTVB look into Idaho's over-serving laws.
"It's life and death, I mean if your staff is not trained and just wheeling alcohol freely, someone gets hurt, like we have seen this last week, or killed," Ted Challenger, owner of Amsterdam Lounge and several other downtown Boise bars, explained.
With 26 years experience working in Boise's night life industry, Challenger says he can easily spot a drunk person.
"You can tell the signs because people start tripping on themselves, getting louder, bigger and more crazy movements, it's easy to spot," he said.
A bartender or bar owner in Idaho, like Challenger, could have their establishment shut down or they could face jail time for over-serving a customer.
"If a bartender over serves a patron at a time when they knew or should have reasonably known that they were intoxicated at the time of that service that can be a misdemeanor," David Leroy, Idaho's former attorney general, said.
Leroy says what's more common in Idaho is for a bar owner to face a civil suit for over-serving.
"If a person is killed or injured or their property is damaged by someone who was obviously intoxicated and was obviously intoxicated at the time someone provided them liquor, or a bar sold them liquor, then they can bring an action against that person or bar that over-served," Leroy said.
Whether it's a criminal or civil action against a bar, there are challenges for any lawsuit to move forward.
"You would have to have some first-person testimony," Leroy said.
When you are running a bar where there could be several hundred people at any given night, how can a bartender keep track of who should be cut off?
Challenger says training and having several staff members keep an eye out.
"You have to really know how much you are serving a person," Challenger said. "Best way to do that is you look for people that are trying to get into your places that are already overly intoxicated, you don't let them in and then you also get your staff tips trained. You train your security staff and you have to become aware."
It's an issue Challenger takes very seriously because his business or someone else's life could be at stake.
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