Is a bar/club allowed to remove you from the premises without returning your debit card?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is a bar/club allowed to remove you from the premises without returning your debit card?

If I was at a bar, and ejected from said bar for being too intoxicated Are
they obligated to return my credit card before I leave? What if I am too drunk
to drive and need to pay for a cab?

Asked on October 23, 2016 under Business Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they have to return your debit card (and anything else you left behind) when they remove you. There is a word for deliberately holding onto *any* of your property and not returning it to you: theft. If they did this deliberately, you could look to file charges against them (e.g. vs. the bartender; possibly vs. the bar, too) and to also sue them for any costs, losses, etc. you thereby suffered (for example, if they then used your card and took any money out without your authorization). If it  was not deliberate, you could only sue for any losses, not press charges, since if it was not deliberate, they would not have had the right criminal "intent" ("mens rea") for criminal liability.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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