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Liquor Liability Laws

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According to a study done by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities each year involve a driver who is impaired by alcohol.  The legal limit for drunk driving in Texas is a BAC (or blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher.  While there are several factors that contribute to someone’s blood alcohol content, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends drinking no more than one “standard” drink per hour if you plan to drive (a standard drink is considered one 12 oz. beer, one 5 oz. glass of wine, or one 1.5 oz. shot of distilled spirits).  In Texas, anyone driving while impaired by alcohol could face severe criminal penalties including substantial fines and jail time for a DUI conviction.  But a drunk driver is not the only one who may face charges.

While many alcohol related injuries and deaths occur as a result of drinking in the home, an overwhelming majority of drunk driving incidents result from the improper service of alcohol from bars, restaurants, and other alcohol vendors.  There are laws in place that are specifically designed to prevent such incidents, but these laws are blatantly violated by bars and restaurants simply because it’s profitable to sell the alcohol.  This is why Dram Shop laws are in effect, because they hold a drinking establishment liable for injuries that result from the overconsumption of alcohol.  Generally, in order to be held liable under a dram shop statute, it must be proven that the establishment continued to serve alcohol to a person who was visibly or obviously intoxicated, and that person thereafter caused injury to themselves or to a third person.

It is not enough that a bar owner served enough alcohol to get the bar patron drunk.  It must be shown that the bar continued to serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person whom the bar’s employees knew, or should have known, was then capable of causing harm either to himself or to third parties.  Because of this danger, alcohol providers are trained to recognize signs of obvious intoxication, and some of these signs include:

  • Poor coordination

  • Slurred speech

  • Loud or belligerent behavior

  • Overly sexual behavior

  • Delayed reaction time

  • Staggering or stumbling

While drunk driving accidents are the most common type of dram shop case, there are a wide variety of injuries that result from the improper service of alcohol, such as alcohol poisoning and assault.  The over-service of alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, but the amount of alcohol that must be consumed for alcohol poisoning to take effect is certainly a large amount. From a legal standpoint, a bar would essentially have no defense in terms of liability against an alcohol poisoning case considering that it requires much more alcohol than is required for the signs of obvious intoxication to be present.  Assault can also result from being over-served alcohol, since it is common for people to respond to intoxication with rage and/or heightened sexuality, and that can lead to violence in the form of physical or sexual assault.  With dram shop laws in place, the victims of such assault can bring a claim against the drinking establishment and the assailant.

If you are ever injured in an alcohol-related incident, it is important that you obtain the advice of an attorney.  Cases like this undergo a rigorous analysis of the percentage of liability that should be assigned to each party involved, and most times requires the hiring of experts. Paradowski Law can be of great assistance in such claims, and can help ensure that all persons responsible, including the drunk person, are brought to justice.

Call Paradowski Law at (855) 524-2976 and Get What You Deserve.

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