Signs of intoxication and server intervention among 18–39-year-olds drinking at licensed premises in New South Wales, Australia


Neil Donnelly
GPO Box 6
Sydney, NSW 2001
Tel: + 61 2 9231 9196
Fax: + 61 2 9231 9187


Aims  To estimate the extent of responsible service of alcohol (RSA) practice to young adults showing signs of alcohol intoxication on licensed premises in New South Wales.

Design  Telephone-based cross-sectional survey.

Setting  New South Wales, Australia.

Participants  A total of 1090 people aged 18–39 years old.

Findings  Seventy-five per cent of males and 64% of females reported that they had consumed at levels for acute alcohol-related harm during the previous 12 months, with 34% of males and 24% of females reporting doing so weekly; 54% (95% CI: 51–58%) of both males and females who had consumed at acute-risk levels, reported that this last drinking occasion occurred at a licensed premises. Of these, 56% (95% CI: 51–61%) reported that they had exhibited at least one sign of overt alcohol intoxication, while 19% (95% CI: 15–23%) reported showing three or more signs of intoxication. Among those reporting at least one sign of intoxication, only 10% (95% CI: 7–15%) reported that the licensed premises staff had provided at least one of seven different responsible service initiatives, while 55% (95% CI: 48–61%) reported that they were continued to be served alcohol. While these results suggest that intoxicated patrons are not being refused service as often as they should, there was evidence for some degree of responsible service provision with around half of the ‘non-intoxicated’ patrons reporting that they had seen licensed premises staff intervene in some way with other ‘intoxicated’ patrons.

Conclusions  While the majority of 18–39-year-olds report showing signs of intoxication while drinking at licensed premises in NSW, only a small minority report experiencing RSA initiatives from bar staff in response to these signs.