We’ve all encountered them; overzealous bouncers and security at bars and clubs. They range from not very friendly (which we can deal with) to blatantly disregarding your rights and your property.
Of course, the vast majority of security are professional, gracious, and, quite frankly, deserving of sainthood for all they put up with. However, there are those who cross the line of not just politeness, but the law. Read on for what you may encounter, and how to respond.
What Are Bouncers and Security Actually Allowed to Do?
First of all, you need to know what bouncers are allowed to do by law, and it’s probably less than you think. Legally their job does not have any special provisions about physical force. They are allowed to ID you and refuse you entry if you’re too drunk or aren’t complying with the establishment’s policies in some way. They can also ask you to leave for the same reasons. But, as far as fights go, bouncers can break them up and respond to aggressive behavior with equal force only. So, if you instigate a fight, they can respond in kind.
What They Can’t Do
Ok so that all makes sense right? Now let’s cover the things that bouncers cannot do. Most importantly, they can’t use unwarranted physical force against you. This includes physically throwing you out of the bar, striking you, or using a weapon of any kind. They also can’t confiscate your ID.
Now, whether you want to argue this with a bouncer is entirely up to you, but legally they can’t take it. What will most likely happen is they will turn it over to the cops, who can confiscate it. They also cannot take any of your property without your consent. If you are carrying an item that isn’t allowed in the bar however, they can refuse you entry.
This is a slightly confusing topic, legally speaking. Bouncers can search you to a reasonable extent, but only if you consent to it. So, if you are comfortable with a pat-down style search then they can perform one. This doesn’t mean that they can perform a strip search or any other invasive procedure and it is absolutely your right to refuse any kind of search. However, they can then deny you entry into the establishment if you do not consent to a search.
What to Do If You Encounter a Problem
If you come across a bouncer who is simply rude, there may not be much you can do. Conduct yourself in a courteous and polite manner so you don’t give them any reason to cite provocation. You can then inquire within the establishment about the company they work for in order to file a complaint. If they are hired privately by the bar, it’s best to take it up with management.
If you are hit by or otherwise physically assaulted by a bouncer, there are several steps you should take.
First, make a note of the time and place.
Then, write a detailed account of the incident.
Finally, head to your local police station and file a formal complaint.
If you suffer serious injury you could potentially sue the bouncer or the company that employs them for damages.
While we hope you never have a bad interaction with security, we are neither lawyers nor cops. If you think a bouncer has crossed the line, contact your local PD.
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