Anyone considering entering the restaurant and bar business should be aware of the responsibility requirements involved with serving alcohol. Intoxicated business patrons who are involved in an accident after leaving the establishment can present legal liability problems for the business owner in the wrong situation.
“Dram Shop” laws only apply in 38 states, and some states, such as California, have strictly forbidden any legal liability for restaurant or bar owners because of difficulties in establishing negligence of the businesses. However, this condition is a fact of life for most business owners who serve alcohol.
Responsibilities of an Intoxicated Patron
Individuals are responsible for their own actions, even when they are inebriated, and accidents often occur when individuals are not considering those responsibilities. This is especially true when it involves driving under the influence. Additionally, individuals do not need to be over-intoxicated to be involved in a serious accident.
Many people drive regularly with a low blood alcohol content level when they think they are within the limits of the law. The problem is that any level of intoxication can be considered negligence, which can also extend to the establishment or individual who served the alcohol.
Responsibilities of the Server
Dram shop laws can create a considerable liability even in borderline intoxication situations, so it is very important for the bar tender to keep a watchful assessment of all alcohol consumption. The actual server is also included in the responsible liability group. And, the legal duty of care liability does not require the responsible party to be an establishment owner.
Dram shop laws can also extend to individuals who are serving alcohol at a home party or dinner, and this is especially true when underage drinkers are involved. It is important for any host to provide some sort of legal transportation for their guests or stress that a designated driver also attend.
Responsibilities of a Parent
The CDC states that the younger generation is one of the most at-risk groups for being involved in a DUI crash. And teen drivers who don’t learn about the responsibility of driving sober turn into young independents that drink and drive. According to an Atlanta GA auto accident attorney, “more than one-third of drivers with blood alcohol content (BAC) levels of 0.08% or higher are between the ages of 21 and 24.”
Parents should always supervise activities when young people have events at home that involve drinking. Legal age drinking can occur, but it does not necessarily need to include over-indulgence. Problems usually occur when there is no adult supervision and young adults make bad decisions while they are under the influence.
In addition, most young adults do not have the personal assets to satisfy a judgement that is in excess of any insurance coverage if they are responsible for an accident. Many states have extended legal liability standing for the parents of the children if the accident occurs directly after leaving the family property. Always be aware of what is happening on your property and monitor any activities involving alcohol.
Dram shop liability can be difficult to establish in court, but it is still important to carry business insurance that includes dram shop liability coverage. Any establishment owner should always make a strict policy of requesting identification from any customer who may be under the legal drinking age, and the same policy applies to parents who host events involving young adult drinkers.
It is always necessary to retain an experienced attorney who understands how to develop or defend a negligence case involving serving alcohol when a legal situation arises. Merely serving alcohol to an individual of legal age does not constitute negligence in itself, but failing to enforce an alcohol consumption policy may create some level of negligence. The responsible party should always be on guard.