Can A Bar Or Restaurant Be Held Liable For Drunk Driving Accidents?

serving beerIt’s the holidays, a time of thanks, togetherness and cheer. But it’s also a time for holiday parties and festive get-togethers, many of which serve alcohol. People are more likely to be killed in a car crash during the holidays than any other time of the year. So what happens if someone who has been drinking at a bar or restaurant causes a car accident? Is the driver solely responsible, or can the bar or restaurant that served the alcohol be held liable, too?

The Holidays and Drunk Driving

This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated more than 700 people will be injured or killed in a drunk driving accident between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  That’s two to three times higher than the rest of the year. Winter weather and increased traffic during the holidays are also contributing factors.

In 2012, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reported 134 people died in alcohol-related crash over Christmas in the U.S. This number signified 37% of all traffic deaths at the time, compared to a 31% average for the whole year. Over the New Year holiday, drunk driving accidents claimed 140 lives.

These numbers are startling. Someone must be held accountable, and sometimes it is a bar or restaurant.

How Is A Bar Or Restaurant At Fault For Drunk Driving Accidents?

The plaintiff’s attorney in a drunk driving lawsuit must prove the other party was negligent, and in some cases it could be the alcohol provider. In the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, you will find the Texas Dram Shop Act. This statute declares that the victim must prove:

1)   The provider of the alcohol was aware that the individual being sold, served or provided with the alcoholic beverage was clearly intoxicated and could potentially be a danger to himself / herself and others.

2)   The recipient’s level of intoxication contributed to the injuries or damages suffered by the plaintiff.

So to answer the question, yes, an establishment that serves alcohol (e.g. bar or restaurant) can be held liable for a drunk driving accident. The alcohol provider has a responsibility, no doubt. However, so do you.

As a driver, you have a duty to drive safely and responsibly, and you cannot do that if you have been drinking. Drunk driving accidents are tragic, and not just for the victims and their families. The people who cause alcohol-related crashes will likely experience grave consequences that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

So before you get behind the wheel after having a few drinks, whether at someone’s house, bar or restaurant, stop. There are other options to drinking and driving. Call a cab, friend or family member to pick you up. Better yet, arrange for alternate transportation before the night’s activities begin.

What Do I Do If I’m Hurt In A Drunk Driving Accident?

The VanDeLoo Firm in Plano, Texas, is ready to stand by you in the event of a drunk driving accident. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to someone else’s negligence, Amy VanDeLoo is prepared to represent you. Amy VanDeLoo is a personal injury lawyer serving Plano, Allen, Frisco and McKinney. She has more than a decade of experience handling personal injury, wrongful death and drunk driving cases as well as negotiating settlements in and out of court. To speak with the VanDeLoo Firm, call 972-200-5080 to schedule a free consultation.

Image courtesy of ahmet guler /