The Roundup -

Special Event Volunteers and Alcohol Liability


With the summer season fast approaching, area communities are beginning to plan their festivals, fairs, and fundraisers. With many of these special events alcohol is sold and served by volunteers and as a volunteer many of you may not be aware that you bear the same liabilities for illegal alcohol sales as someone who is paid to serve and sell alcohol. Therefore, it is crucial you understand your responsibility when serving and selling as well as the consequences for any illegal sales.

Currently, Montana law requires volunteers who serve and sell alcohol under a licensed establishment for a special event be trained in Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training, however Montana Law does not require volunteers who serve and sell alcohol under special permit to be trained, though both bear the same liability for illegal sales.

Illegal alcohol sales can result in you being held both criminally and civilly liable. An illegal sale to a minor can include a $500.00 dollar fine and up to six months in jail. Over-service of alcohol can include being cited criminally in addition to being sued civilly if the individual served injures or kills someone else as result of over service.

To ensure a safer event for all, it is recommended that all event volunteers be trained in Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training so they understand their liabilities but also learn the skills necessary to be responsible when selling and serving alcohol.

To reduce your liability when planning Special Events in your community the following guidelines are recommended: 1) Ensure all volunteers are trained in Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training 2) Require all servers to be 21 years of age or older 3) Do not allow volunteers or security to drink alcohol while on duty 4) Ensure area serving and selling alcohol is cordoned off from event to prevent youth access or from alcohol leaving secured area. 5) Ensure IDs are being checked consistently. 6) To prevent over-service it is advisable to set limits on the amount of alcohol that can be purchased by each individual. 7) Post signage regarding ID checking and over-service laws. Signage is available free of charge through the Montana Department of Revenue or District II Alcohol & Drug Program.

Underage drinking and over-service of alcohol unfortunately plague all our communities in Montana, and we all bear the responsibility in preventing the many tragedies as a result of these actions. Implementing simple changes to any event can reduce potential tragedies from occurring and liabilities associated with illegal sales. For more information or FREE assistance in developing special event procedures please contact District II Alcohol & Drug Program at 406-433-4097 or email [email protected] or [email protected]


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