Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal, and it can put your life at risk. Anyone caught drinking and driving should be held accountable for any injuries that result from their bad decision to get behind the wheel. However, the drunk driver may not be the only one who is responsible for the accident. The bartender who served them could also be liable.
A Texas law called the Texas Dram Shop Law suggests that bartenders should be held responsible for drunk drivers. That is only if there is proof that they continued serving more alcohol drinks to an already intoxicated person.
What Is The Texas Dram Shop Law?
The Texas Dram Shop Law was passed in 1987 in a bid to hold bar owners responsible for any drunk driving accidents. At that time, in response to the increasing drunk driving accidents, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) tried to bring people’s attention to the severity of drunken driving cases.
The organizations established a civil framework that would target those selling alcohol to already intoxicated individuals. The structure was meant to hold bartenders and alcohol-selling institutions liable for victims of drunk driving accidents in court.
Holding bar owners accountable meant that if a drunk person got into an accident after leaving the establishment, the bar would have to pay damages to any victims. However, the one suing the establishment would have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they were intoxicated and were a danger to themselves and society.
How Does The Dram Shop Law Function?
There are two main points to note about how the Dram Shop Law works. The first thing to note is that the injured party can bring up a dram shop case for a vehicle accident. For this to hold in court, the complainant should sue the bar in which they got the drinks. However, bartenders and bars are not automatically responsible for any injuries caused by the patron’s drinking.
The second critical note is that the Dram Shop Law can be put under scrutiny with the issue of comparative responsibility. If a jury establishes that the drunk driver played a significant role in the accident, they may rule in favor of the bar. The jury has to show that the driver was more responsible for the accident in question and that the accident had nothing to do with the bar.
The jury, in most cases, rules that everyone is responsible for their drinking. Therefore, the bar might get absolved of any legal charges, and the drunk driver would have to pay the injured party.
How Do Accident Lawyers Prove Negligence?
While it is hard to prove that bartenders were negligent of the patron’s intoxication, particular evidence stands out in these cases. An accident lawyer can use the following situations to ascertain that the bartender was careless in their duties:
- If the bartender kept serving an intoxicated person even more drinks. The security cameras and eyewitnesses can support this evidence.
- The bartender served someone after the official closing hours.
- The bartender served a minor without inquiring about their age.
- The toxicology screen shows the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system at the time of the accident.
The Bottom Line
While the Texas Dram Shop Law is fully viable in a court of law, several changes have been made to the act ever since it was passed. Therefore, this means that before pursuing any civil justice against a bar owner or bartender, you should get the necessary information from a certified and experienced lawyer to ascertain your chances of victory in court.