As reported in The Sunday Telegraph (admittedly it was a fortnight ago, but blog posts don’t just fall out of the sky you know) the New South Wales Office of Liquor and Gaming has drawn up some new intoxication guidelines.  I suspect “guidelines” is probably the wrong word to be using in this instance…  maybe “performance targets”?

The idea is that barpersons use this list to figure out whether you’re drunk or not, and can then assess whether to stop serving you (not sure what the rules here in the UK are, but in Australia pubs and bar staff can get fined massive amounts for serving alcohol to people who are already langered, on the basis that they could then go out and do something stupid like hurt themselves and it would be the fault of the person who sold them the booze in the first place).

Without reprinting the entire list, I’m a little concerned that were this framework to have been in place 15 years ago I might never have been able to enjoy the cultural enrichment connected with the social fixture of going to the pub!  Apparently giveaway signs of intoxication are:

2. Rambling or unintelligible conversation
3. Incoherent or muddled speech
4. Loss of train of thought
6. Difficulty in paying attention
14. Lack of co-ordination
24. Argumentative
25. Offensive
28. Loud or boisterous
29. Confused
31. Exuberance
32. Using offensive language
33. Annoying or pestering others
34. Overly friendly
37. Drowsiness or sleeping at a bar or table

That pretty much describes most of the people I know, most of the time.
Additionally, they seem to be confusing being drunk with being a foreign tourist:

18. Difficulty counting money or paying

These ones could be symptomatic of being aboard a boat:

7. Unsteady on feet
8. Swaying uncontrollably
9. Staggering
10. Difficulting walking straight
12. Stumbling
13. Bumping into or knocking over furniture and people

And certainly at The Sussex on a monday night this one was rife:

19. Difficulty opening doors

however that happened before anyone had even started drinking, and was primarily due to the bastard owner putting a pull handle on a push door.

According to the article:

The department said the guidelines were drafted to help bar staff form a reasonable belief that a person is intoxicated. However, it warned that the list was neither exhaustive nor conclusive.

God I hate that expression – reasonable belief.

“Your honour, I had a reasonable belief that the gentleman was intoxicated, as he displayed several of the symptoms outlined in the intoxication guidelines… and I’d sold him 15 Beam & Cokes in the last half hour”.

“Did you actually see the gentleman consume the Beam & Cokes?”

“No m’lud”

“Your honour the defense evidence shows that the Beam & Cokes were purchased by the gentleman for distribution among a party of slappers with whom he was trying to cop off, and he himself does not drink.  In fact the reason the man was speaking unintelligibly, losing his train of thought, fumbling his change and swaying uncontrollably was that he had 14 live rats in his underpants, for the purposes of treating a specific medical condition.  He wishes to pursue damages for your libellous claim against his good character that he was in any way inappropriately intoxicated.”

“But the guidelines said…”

“Interjection – we at the department clearly stated that the list of intoxication guidelines was neither exhaustive nor conclusive, and any judgement of intoxication was purely the responsibility of the person serving the drinks”

“Right, I find in favour of the gentleman – the accused will pay sixty thousand quid in costs & damages, deliver an apology including the words ‘deeply sorry’, and get a big hard smack on the pee-pee.  Court is adjourned.”

“Brilliant!  Drinks are on me, everyone!”

If you were going to stop serving booze to people on the grounds that they were intoxicated wouldn’t it make more sense to measure that somehow, like making them blow in a breathalyzer and not serving them til you get a green light?  Of course it would.  Only once the green light had been given could the person then proceed to buying the 15 Jim Beam & Cokes.  It’s the sensible solution.  Either that, or a system of putting warning labels on bottles.