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Bars & Restaurants Have Some Liability for Drunk-Driving Holiday Accidents

December 2, 2015 | Category: Blog, DUI

Dining out is a part of most holiday festivities. It is a time to socialize with friends and family.  Many people in the United States are injured or killed following accidents with drunk drivers who were over-served in restaurants and bars.   

Bars & Restaurants Have Some Liability for Drunk-Driving Holiday Accidents - Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.Many states hold commercial vendors of alcohol (bars, taverns, package stores, restaurants) responsible for injuries caused by drunk patrons under “dram shop” laws. The phrase “dram shop” is based on a unit of measure popular in Victorian times and has become synonymous with the prohibition on the over-service of customers. 

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) says that creating a cause of action against an over-serving establishment does not mean that the individual is not also held responsible. Rather, punitive damages for both drinking drivers and serving establishments serve similar purposes, to show them the penalties that come with their actions and to cause them to rethink their practices. 

Florida is among the forty-four states that have enacted liquor liability laws. These laws make it possible for a plaintiff to hold those who serve alcohol to an intoxicated or underage person responsible for any damage or injury caused by these same individuals after they leave the bar or restaurant. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these same state laws where criminal charges may also apply. 

Florida’s liquor liability laws are covered under Florida’s Dram Shop Act, which can be found in Florida Statutes, Section 768.125. Florida’s legislature created liability for bars and establishments, under certain conditions, for any injury or death that results from intoxication. What the statute says is that a person who sells or furnishes alcohol to a person of lawful drinking age shall not become liable for any injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of a person unless they served someone whom they knew to be habitually addicted to alcohol or if the bar or restaurant served an underage person. 

Tips for responsible alcohol service

The National Restaurant Association (NRA)says that serving alcohol in restaurants comes with a great responsibility. Further, in many states, the restaurant and its employees can face criminal charges for serving alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated customer. They can also be held liable if an intoxicated customer’s actions lead to death, injury or property damage. NRA provides ServSafeAlcohol training. ServeSafe provides training and certification for employees.

The ServSafe training and certification program teaches bar and restaurant employees to:

  • Understand alcohol laws and responsibilities
  • Evaluate intoxication levels
  • Check identification
  • Deal with difficult situations

“Drunk drivers kill and maim every day. If you or a loved one are injured by a drunk driver, and you suspect they were served as a minor or over-intoxicated patron at a bar or restaurant, contact the attorneys at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. to determine your rights,” said Hurt by Drunk Driver Attorney, Randall Spivey.

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