Things You Must Know

Avoiding Violations

Permitting Drunkenness/Violent & Disorderly Conduct

THE LAW
“The licence holder shall not permit drunkenness, unlawful gambling or riotous, quarrelsome, violent or disorderly conduct to occur on the premises or in the adjacent washrooms, liquor and food preparation areas and storage areas under the exclusive control of the licence holder.”
Reg.719,Section. 4545.145.246.

WHAT IT MEANS

  • Guests who are drunk, violent, aggressive or out-of-control are not allowed on the premises.
  • Noisy patrons gathering outside an establishment after closing time should be politely dispersed.
  • Line-ups to get into licensed establishments must be properly monitored and secured.
  • Depending on the type of premises and patrons, all entrances should be properly supervised.
  • Patrons should always be sufficiently monitored to ensure that no improper activities are taking place.
Overcrowding

THE LAW

…”the number of persons on the premises to which the licence applies, including employees of the licence holder, does not exceed the capacity of the licensed premises as stated on the licence..”
Reg.719, Section 43.

WHAT IT MEANS

  • Every licensed establishment is issued a maximum capacity, which it cannot exceed.
  • The licensee must ensure that the total number of guests and employees does not go above the maximum capacity, as stated on the licence.
  • Tips and techniques for controlling your door:
    1. Assign at least two experienced staff when the door is busy.
    2. Count the number of people entering and leaving the premises. Account for staff in your totals.
    3. Set up a separate area where I.D.’s can be checked.
Selling Liquor to Visibly Intoxicated Persons

THE LAW

“No person shall sell or supply liquor or permit liquor to be sold or supplied to any person who is or appears to be intoxicated.”
R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, s. 29.

WHAT IT MEANS

Licensees must not serve patrons displaying signs of intoxication, such as:

  • Inappropriate speech volume
  • Shallow breathing
  • Glazed look in eyes
  • Difficulty seeing and hearing
Permitting Drugs

THE LAW

“The licence holder shall not permit a person to hold, offer for sale, sell, distribute or consume a controlled substance as defined in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Canada) on the premises or in the adjacent washrooms, liquor and food preparation areas and storage areas under the exclusive control of the licence…”
Reg.719, Section 45, (2)

WHAT TO DO

Take steps to discourage the presence of illegal drugs:

  • Proper lighting to avoid dark corners/areas.
  • Make all tables visible to staff and other patrons.
  • Place security in areas of concern (bathroom entrance, side stage, doors, entries and exits).
  • Refuse entry/service to anyone suspected of participating in the sale or use of illegal drugs on or near the licensed premises areas.
Failure to Clear Signs-of-Service or Service Outside of Prescribed Hours

THE LAW

“Except for December 31, liquor may be sold and served only between 9 a.m. on any day and 2 a.m. on the following day…”
Reg.719, Sections 2529.

WHAT IT MEANS

  • Orders for alcohol must be served before the stop service time. For example, in a licensed establishment, you cannot serve drinks after 2:00 a.m., even if you took the order at 1:55 a.m. (except on New Year’s Eve).
  • All alcohol and its containers (including empty glasses and bottles) must be cleared away within 45 minutes of the stop-service time.
Illegal Liquor on Premises

THE LAW

“The licence holder shall not permit liquor, other than liquor purchased by the licence holder under licence from a government store, to be brought onto the premises to which the licence applies or that are used in connection with the sale and service of liquor, including the liquor and food preparation area and storage areas.”
Reg.719, Section 33.

WHAT IT MEANS

  • You cannot offer liquor for sale and service that is not purchased under YOUR licence from an Ontario government store or a store operated by Brewers Retail Inc.
  • Examples of illegal liquor include: smuggled liquor, homemade liquor, adulterated or ‘watered down’ liquor, any liquor brought onto the premises by a customer or anyone else, any liquor purchased from a government store but not under your licence, or personal bottles.
Obstructing Inspection

THE LAW

…”No person shall obstruct a person carrying out an inspection under this Act or withhold, destroy, conceal or refuse to provide any relevant information or thing required for the purpose of the inspection…”
Reg.719, Sections 44, (2)

WHAT IT MEANS

  • All staff must have a clear understanding that they are not allowed to deny entry to AGCO Compliance Officials (formerly “Inspectors”), Health Inspectors, Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters, acting in the course of their duties, during, or after hours of operation.
Serving Minors / Failure to Check Identification (I.D.)

THE LAW

…”before liquor is sold or served to a person apparently under the age of nineteen years, an item of identification of the person is inspected.”
Reg.719,Sections 4142

WHAT TO DO

  • I.D. should be checked at the door, bar or at the table. In some establishments, the house policy is to check I.D. at the door and again at the table to make sure someone wasn’t missed.
  • Steps to checking age identification:
    1. Ask the guest to remove I.D. from their wallet
    2. Examine the I.D. in a well-lit area
    3. Hold the I.D. in your own hands to see or feel if any changes have been made
Failure to Post Signage

THE LAW

…”No person shall sell or supply liquor or offer to sell or supply liquor from a prescribed premises unless, (a) the premises prominently displays a warning sign containing the prescribed information that cautions women who are pregnant that the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is the cause of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder…”
R.S.O. 1990, L.19,. Sections 30.130.2

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Sandy’s Law is an amendment to the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) that makes it an offense to sell or supply liquor unless, a sign is displayed warning women that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Know the Law

Quick Tips on Responsible Service Every Licensee Must Know

In the province of Ontario you can legally serve alcohol at 18 years old, however, you must be at least 19 to legally drink alcohol.

Acceptable Forms of Identification (I.D.)
The only legally acceptable forms of identification are:

  • Ontario Driver’s Licence
  • Canadian Passport
  • Canadian Citizenship Card
  • Canadian Armed Forces Card
  • Bring Your Identification (BYID) card issued by the LCBO
  • Secure Indian Status Card (Canadian)
  • Permanent Resident Card (Canadian)
  • Any photo card issued under the Photo Card Act 2008

Note: To be legally acceptable, all identification must be valid. Expired I.D. is not acceptable. By law, you should not ask for the Ontario Health Card as identification.

Hours of Alcohol Service

Liquor may be sold and served in Ontario during the following hours:

Licensed Establishments:

  • Monday to Sunday: 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31): 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Special Occasion Permit Events:

  • Monday to Sunday: 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31): 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Retail Sale Hours:

  • Monday to Sunday: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

*Retail stores are only permitted to sell alcohol within the permissible hours, even if they have operating hours outside of this time period.

For all other hours of Alcohol Sale and Service, please refer to the AGCO website

Mandatory Signs

The Sandy’s Law sign, or the sign warning women about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), must be prominently posted in all licensed establishments.

The sign can be printed in black and white, or colour, and must be at least 8 x 10 inches in size.

Failure to post the sign as directed is an offence under the Liquor Licence Act. (LLA).

Checking Identification (I.D.)

Age Identification

Why check I.D.?

It is your responsibility to determine whether your guests are 19 years of age or older.

  • In Ontario, it’s illegal for licensed establishments to sell or serve alcohol to anyone under 19 years of age.
  • Serving alcohol to underaged guests, besides being against the law, is an offence under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) and can lead to monetary penalties by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and the police.
  • You and your establishment can be held responsible and your employer’s Liquor Licence can be suspended or revoked.

When to check I.D.?

  • When a person looks younger than 25 years of age.
  • When body language or behaviour is unusual. For example, avoiding eye contact or trying to rush the process.

Acceptable I.D.

  • Valid provincial driver’s licence or out-of-province photo driver’s licence.
  • Canadian Armed Forces Identification Card.
  • Valid Passport.
  • Certificate of Indian Status.
  • Canadian Citizenship Card.
  • Permanent Resident Card issued by Government of Canada.
  • Photo Card issued under the Photo CardAct, 2008.
  • Bring Your Identification (BYID) card issued by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

If you are unfamiliar with the I.D. presented, you should ask for another piece of government-issued photo I.D.. NEVER accept student cards or an EXPIRED I.D..

How to check I.D.?

  • Examine in a well-lit area.
  • Tilt the I.D. under light to see all of the reflective seals and holograms flash.
  • Check the overall condition of the card – minors often use the expired I.D. of a family member or friend.
  • Visually and manually confirm that the ID’s size, weight and shape are normal and that the photo, lettering and lamination haven’t been switched, altered or tampered with.
  • Check for uneven surfaces and edges as well as cuts or bubbles in the laminate.

What to look for:

  • Does the person actually look old enough to be the person on the I.D.?
  • Does the I.D. verify that the person is over the legal drinking age?
  • If the colours are dull/faded or if the birth or expiry dates look scratched, or appear to have been tampered with – DO NOT accept the I.D.
  • Are the letters in the same font and same size of font?
  • Beware of misspelled words.
  • Compare the I.D. photo and description – height, weight, eye and hair colour are the most likely and easiest to tamper with. Pay attention to the shape and size of the facial features.
  • The Ontario Drivers Licence picture is in black and white – consider checking other features such as: shape of face, cheek bone structure.
  • The Ontario Drivers Licence states a person’s height in cm. If you are not familiar with this unit of measurement, know your own height in both inches and cm for comparison.
  • Keep on file, a copy of a current legitimate I.D. available for comparison’s sake.

NOTE: In Ontario, the Health Card can only be used as a secondary piece of I.D. and can only be accepted if offered.

What to do when the person & I.D. don’t match:

It is your right and responsibility to ask for additional identification if you have any concerns about the I.D. that has been presented to you. If you still have doubts about the validity of the I.D.’s, you might want to consider asking the following questions:

  • What is your birthday?
  • How do you spell your middle name?
  • What is your postal code?
  • What is your street address?
  • Ask the person to sign a blank sheet of paper and compare the signature to the one on the I.D..

Again, pay attention to body language and behaviour. For more information about Acceptable forms of I.D., please visit the AGCO website.

Risk Management

Managing Risk:

Special event organizers have both a legal and practical duty to ensure their guests drink responsibly. For large scale events, especially where the general public is admitted. you should always prepare a risk management plan.

A properly prepared risk management plan will help identify potential problems. The key elements of such a plan are:

  • Conducting a thorough safety inspection of your premises.
  • Communicating the risk management plan and the emergency action plan to all staff.
  • Establishing and posting house policies and ensure that everyone knows what they are.
  • Developing an emergency action plan and include a chain of command.
  • Acquiring insurance coverage and any necessary permits.
  • Arranging for safe transportation home for your guests.
  • Ensuring all staff/volunteers are Smart Serve Certified.
  • Having a Smart Serve Incident Reporting Log on hand to record details of all guest incidents.
Reducing the Risk

You can lower your risk by learning how to prevent guests from overindulging at your next event. This includes:

  • Never allowing already intoxicated people into your event.
  • Never serving minors, and checking the ID of people you suspect are under 25.
  • Discouraging excessive drinking or serving alcohol to anyone you suspect may already be intoxicated.
  • Preventing drunken, violent or disorderly conduct at the event.
  • Never letting guests drink and drive.
  • Never making drinking the focus of your event.
  • Serving alcohol only within the allowed hours as stated on your Liquor Licence.
  • Always serving food with alcohol.
  • Offering a variety of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at a reasonable price

You may also lessen your risk by hiring a licensed caterer or bartender who is Smart Serve Certified.

Policies and Procedures

A well written Policy and Procedures’ Manual will inform staff and guests on acceptable practice and culture of responsible service of alcohol. The policy should be clear, positive and easy to update.

The Policies should be reviewed with staff/volunteers and posted in a visible place.

Some things to include, would be:

  • Guidelines on how to deal with aggressive, unruly, and intoxicated guests.
  • Not allowing staff/volunteers to drink on the job, or be under the influence of any kind.
  • Ensuring that staff/volunteers are of legal age to sell & serve alcohol.
  • Ensuring that staff/volunteers are trained to deal with difficult situations.
  • Ensuring that staff/volunteers understand best practices, when it comes to handling difficult situations and removing a guest (such as: having a female staff member involved when dealing with a female customer, if available).
  • Preparing for adequate guest-to-staff ratio. Have enough staff on duty to ensure the safety of your customers/guests.
  • Dealing with underaged guests, including how to recognize and deal with false I.D.

Preventing Intoxication

As a host, keeping your guests from drinking excessively should be your primary concern.
Here are some tips you can put into practice to make your next event a safe one.

DO:

  • Make sure you understand the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) and Regulations.
  • Create and enforce house policies that promote responsible service and moderate alcohol consumption.
  • Post your Liquor Sales Licence (LSL) or Special Occasion Permit (SOP).
  • Ensure that staff/volunteers selling/serving alcohol are at least 18 years of age.
  • Assign a trained staff member (or professional security) to monitor the door.
  • Check the I.D. of people you suspect are underage and look under 25 years of age.
  • Ensure the number of people on the premises is within lawful capacity.
  • Station the bar far from the door, in a spot where people aren’t always passing it.
  • Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar.
  • Hire a professional bartender who is Smart Serve Certified.
  • Hire a caterer with trained staff. Caterers can include both independent operators and restaurants that carry catering endorsements.
  • Provide a variety of food items because the consumption of food slows down the absorption of alcohol. Try to limit salty foods, as they make people thirsty.
  • Close your bar well before the scheduled end of the party.

DON’T:

  • Plan to have servers circulating around the room refilling people’s glasses. People often accept drinks they don’t really want.
  • Plan physical activities like swimming, skiing, snowmobiling or skating when you serve alcohol. People are more prone to accidents when they’ve been drinking.
  • Allow the number of guests to exceed the legal capacity of the premises.
  • Sell multiple beverage tickets to one guest.
  • Price alcohol too low, since this will encourage heavy drinking.

Special Occasion Permits

Special Occasion Permits (SOPs) are required for the service of alcohol at an event in any location other than a licensed establishment (bar or restaurant), private place (boardroom in a private office), or residence. However, if alcohol is being offered for sale at a private place, an SOP is required – this excludes private residences (your home) where alcohol cannot be sold.

  • Private Event: For events where only invited guests will attend. Weddings, corporate parties.
  • Public Events: For events that are open to the public. Fundraisers, charity events.
  • Tailgate Events: For Public Events that are held outdoors, in connection with, and in proximity to, an eligible live sporting event and where attendees 19 years of age or older may bring their own liquor (BYOB) for consumption at the event.
  • Industry Promotional Events: For events held to promote a liquor manufacturer’s product through sampling.

As an event organizer, you are responsible for your guest’s safety and sobriety. If your guests become intoxicated, you’re responsible until they sober up, not just until they leave your event. It is important to know you may be held responsible for injuries or damages that occur as a result of the alcohol you provide.

When do I need a Public Event Special Occasion Permit?

If you are planning an event open to the public and wish to sell or serve alcohol, you will need to apply for and obtain a Special Occasion Permit (SOP). Public event organizers can apply for their Special Occasion Permits online, directly with the AGCO by using the iAGCO online portal.

Important:  As a permit holder, you are personally responsible to ensure that alcohol is sold and served responsibly and according to the law.

Click Here for Additional Tips on Responsible Alcohol Service at Festivals and Large Public Events

When do I need a Private Event Permit Special Occasion Permit?

If you are planning a special event anywhere other than a private place, or an establishment with a liquor licence and wish to serve alcohol you will need to apply for and obtain a Special Occasion Permit (SOP).

Private Event SOPs are for occasional events for invited guests only, such as a birthday party or wedding. The event cannot be advertised to the public. As the holder of a Private Event SOP, you cannot run the event with the intention of profiting from the sale of alcohol at the event. Applications for SOPs can apply online, directly with the AGCO by using the iAGCO online portal.

Important: As a permit holder, you are personally responsible to ensure that alcohol is sold and served responsibly and according to the law.

Duty of Care – A Checklist for Caring Hosts

Ask guests ahead of time to volunteer as designated drivers

Let them know you’ll serve alcohol-free drinks.
Remind volunteers that Designated Drivers’ don’t drink and drive.
Thank them for helping to keep our roads safe.

Recognize the signs of intoxication in your guests

  • Fast/slow/loud/slurred speech.
  • Physical clumsiness or lack of alertness.
  • Tiredness, red eyes or heavy eyelids.

Explore the options

  • A sober companion to get the guest home safely?
  • A friend or relative to call to pick up the guest?
  • Public transportation available?
  • Money for a taxi?

Provide help to prevent drinking and driving

  • Provide taxi numbers or public transit schedules.
  • Offer to make calls for them to find a safe ride home.
  • Invite them to stay overnight.
  • Match them with a Designated Driver.
  • Thank them for not drinking and driving.