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Sales to intoxicated persons (SIP) law enforcement

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Insufficient Evidence
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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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

Reduced excessive drinking
Reduced alcohol-related harms
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, Jones 2011a). 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 (Graham 2014).

A nationwide survey of local law enforcement agencies suggests that SIP laws are underutilized (Lenk 2014).


United States

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).


Wisconsin prohibits alcohol beverage sales to intoxicated persons by law and imposes penalties of up to $500 fine or imprisonment per violation (WI Statute 125.07). 

Citations - Description

CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption. Accessed on May 16, 2017
Erickson 2015 - Erickson DJ, Rutledge PC, Lenk KM, et al. Patterns of alcohol policy enforcement activities among local law enforcement agencies: A latent class analysis. The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research. 2015;4(2):103-111. Accessed on April 6, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Barry 2014 - Barry AE, Weiler RM, Dennis M. “Obvious intoxication” isn’t so obvious. Addictive Behaviors. 2014;39(6):1050-1051. Accessed on April 6, 2017
CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption. Accessed on May 16, 2017
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. Accessed on April 6, 2017
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. Accessed on April 6, 2017
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. Accessed on April 6, 2017

Citations - Implementation

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. Accessed on April 6, 2017
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. Accessed on April 6, 2017
WI Statute 125.07 - Wisconsin State Legislature. WI Statute 125.07: Underage and intoxicated persons; presence on licensed premises; possession; penalties. Accessed on April 6, 2017

Page Last Updated

March 29, 2017

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