Sales to intoxicated persons (SIP) law enforcement

Enforcement of sales to intoxicated persons (SIP) laws, also known as overservice laws, reflect proactive community efforts to prohibit alcoholic beverage service to intoxicated customers in alcohol outlets such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores. Such efforts are carried out by Alcohol Beverage Control personnel or plainclothes or uniformed police and may include walk-throughs, random inspections, last call enforcement, blood alcohol concentration testing, and media messaging (Erickson 2015). Violations may result in fines, imprisonment, or revocation of a retailer’s license. Alcohol beverage outlets are often informed of enforcement plans, and managers and staff are provided with education and training to help prevent service to intoxicated customers (CG-Alcohol).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced excessive drinking

  • Reduced alcohol-related harms

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved alcohol server practices

  • Reduced impaired driving

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether initiatives to enforce sales to intoxicated persons (SIP) laws reduce excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms (CG-Alcohol). Available evidence suggests that such efforts can reduce service to intoxicated customers and reduce alcohol impaired driving, particularly when implemented in areas at high-risk for excessive use (CG-Alcohol, ). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Research suggests that visual observation in on-premise outlets may not support accurate identification of intoxicated individuals (Barry 2014). Use of valid and widely accepted criteria to define intoxication, implementation of unbiased enforcement procedures, adoption of clear and sufficiently severe penalties for violations, and efforts to increase alcohol outlet staff’s awareness of ongoing enforcement and consequences for violation appear to support successful enforcement efforts ().

A nationwide survey of local law enforcement agencies suggests that SIP laws are underutilized ().

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Forty-eight states and Washington DC regulate alcohol sales to intoxicated people by law. Forty-six states and Washington DC impose penalties for violations via criminal laws and administrative laws. Florida and Nevada do not have state-level sales to intoxicated persons (SIP) laws (NHTSA-SIP laws, CAMY-SIP laws).

Citations - Evidence

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CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption.

Jones 2011a* - Jones L, Hughes K, Atkinson AM, Bellis MA. Reducing harm in drinking environments: A systematic review of effective approaches. Health & Place. 2011;17(2):508-18.

Barry 2014 - Barry AE, Weiler RM, Dennis M. “Obvious intoxication” isn’t so obvious. Addictive Behaviors. 2014;39(6):1050-1051.

Graham 2014* - Graham K, Miller P, Chikritzhs T, et al. Reducing intoxication among bar patrons: Some lessons from prevention of drinking and driving. Addiction. 2014;109(5):693-698.

Lenk 2014* - Lenk KM, Toomey TL, Nelson TF, Jones-Webb R, Erickson DJ. State and local law enforcement agency efforts to prevent sales to obviously intoxicated patrons. Journal of Community Health. 2014;39(2):339-348.

Citations - Implementation Examples

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NHTSA-SIP laws - Mosher J, Hauck A, Carmona M, et al. Legal research report: Laws prohibiting alcohol sales to intoxicated persons. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); 2009.

CAMY-SIP laws - Mosher JF, Cohen EN, Dahl E. An update on laws prohibiting alcohol sales to intoxicated persons. Baltimore, MD: Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 2011.

Date Last Updated

Mar 29, 2017