Program to help bars spot drunks

Tuesday, December 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:35 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Missouri has implemented a new approach to combat drunken driving and underage drinking. The State of Missouri Alcohol Responsibility Training Program, called SMART, launched last Wednesday and is online and free for bar and restaurant owners and employees.

The program allows businesses to train employees online on how to spot a fake ID and when to stop serving drinks to an inebriated patron. Employees complete the program by taking a test that they can take as many times as necessary to pass.

The program is being tested in 20 cities in Missouri, including Columbia, and can be used by any bar and restaurant with a liquor license number.

MU’s Wellness Resource Center is administering the program statewide. It is funded with a grant from the Division of Highway Safety of the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco.

Joan Masters, a coordinator at the Wellness Center, praised the program, which is designed to be more accessible to bar and restaurant owners than previous training options.

“The program reduces the barriers of cost and server time,” Masters said. “Employees can access the program on any computer at any time.”

Bars in Columbia and Marysville participated in a pilot program in mid-November to work out technical errors in the program. Willie’s, The Field House and The Blue Note all took part in the pilot and now have 80 percent of their respective staffs fully trained.

After attending a meeting and watching some training videos, employees at the Field House were given individual passwords and told to complete the program by a specific date.

Jemma Archibald, a server and bartender at the Field House, said the program was useful.

“The problems were realistic, and it was helpful to have another perspective,” she said.

Blake Ogilvie, a Blue Note manager, thought the program was useful from a manager’s point of view as well.

“For some of us, it’s easy to know how to find a fake ID, but it’s hard to explain to someone else,” he said.

Managers at The Blue Note took advantage of another feature the online program offers that allows them to create questions that are specific to the establishment.

“The program was elastic, which is great for a music venue like us, where we have all-ages shows and different guidelines,” Ogilvie said.

The MU Truman School of Public Affairs will be evaluating the program for the state.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story

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