Many people enjoy going out to a bar or restaurant where they are able to have a few alcoholic drinks. Most times, people have a designated driver or just call a cab. On the rare occasion when a person has no transportation, the unfortunate opportunity for drunk driving presents itself. When people choose to drink and drive, they are putting themselves and others around them at a great risk. Should an accident occur, it is important to know who could be liable if the drunk driver or anyone involved were to take action and sue.
Dram Shop Laws
There is a law in place in every state known as the Dram Shop Law that addresses any cases that involve the those injured by someone who bought drinks in a bar or restaurant and then proceeded to cause an accident. This law applies to the establishment in which the drunk driver may or may not have been drinking in. If you or someone you know is able to prove which establishment the drinks were bought at, then a case can be made.
There are two types of Dram Shop cases. The first is a first-party dram shop case. This case will have the person who bought the drinks against the establishment. It is very rare that the injured person wins the case because the jury usually ultimately decides that it was the choice of the person to decide to purchase all those drinks and then drive.
The second case is a third-party dram shop case. In this case, the injured person is not the one who was drinking, only a victim of a drunk driving accident. This case is also brought against the establishment. With this law in place, a specific bartender is not liable for drunk driving accidents, only the establishment the bartender was working in.
Penalties for Selling Alcohol to an Intoxicated Person
Although each state has a law in place that address cases against establishments that serve alcohol and injured person, when the bartender is not liable, there are still penalties that can fall on the bartenders if they continue to serve alcohol to a person they know to be intoxicated.
These penalties can fall either into an administrative category or a criminal category. The administrative penalties include fines, suspensions, and revocations. The criminal penalties are those that will become part of your record. The criminal penalties are only given in extreme cases.
For More Information
With this general information identified, you will have a foundation for if a bartender can be held liable for drunk driving accidents. Ultimately the answer is that it can depend on the situation. The bartender can receive penalties such as fines, or the establishment itself could be taken to court. There is still a lot more information out there and one place you can find it is law offices such as Coye Law Firm.
The simple answer is, it is important to speak to a lawyer if you are considering a lawsuit against a bartender or establishment, and it is equally important to seek counsel if you are being sued. Because these laws can vary by state and situation, having an expert on your side is crucial.