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Can Bartenders Be Held Liable in Drunk Driving Crashes?

The role of a bartender has been a staple of civilization for thousands of years. For as long as there’s been alcohol, there’s been a person pouring drinks for others. Bartenders can have unique jobs, to say the least. They work long, sometimes intense shifts, serving drinks to patrons, listening to regulars talk about their problems and making sure that their customers don’t get too out of hand.

Part of the job of a bartender is determining when a customer has had too much to drink. Cutting off a patron comes with the responsibility of being a server. But, unbeknownst to some, bartenders might also be held responsible for the actions of a customer who ends up causing a drunk driving accident.

Dram Shop Laws

Dram Shop laws were put into place to hold a business or an individual responsible for over-serving customers. However, it isn’t enough for attorneys to prove that a person was intoxicated when they were served drinks by a business. It must be proven that the patron was clearly and visibly intoxicated, which can be difficult. It means incorporating witnesses or finding footage of the patron in the establishment that corroborates the assertion that the bartender or server should have known the customer was intoxicated.

Businesses can purchase insurance that covers them from liability, but they are not required to do so by state law. This can make things challenging, for both businesses and victims of a drunk driving collision, should legal action be taken against the establishment.

Who Was Negligent?

It all comes down to the issue of responsibility. First and foremost, the drunk driver is responsible for his or her own actions. The question is:  How much of that responsibility do they bear? While the driver will no doubt be held responsible for driving while intoxicated, the person who served them drinks or the business in which they were drinking can share responsibility for any ensuing accident. In some cases, a percentage of responsibility is allocated to a business or a server whose actions contributed to the drunk driving crash.

How to Tell if a Customer Has Had One Too Many

A patron might be intoxicated if…

  • Their speech is slurred.
  • They have difficulty maintaining balance.
  • They tell you directly that they are drunk.
  • Their behavior changes significantly while at the establishment.
  • Their eyes become glazed or red.

What to Do If a Customer is Intoxicated…

A bartender should immediately stop serving the customer. They should then arrange transportation for that customer, by urging the patron to call a friend, a cab or a rideshare service to get home or by personally arranging transportation by calling a cab.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, the Dallas DUI attorneys at Guajardo & Marks can help. We will investigate your case to determine who is responsible for your damages, and we will work diligently to make sure that you receive compensation for your suffering. Contact us today for a free consultation. We earn no fee unless we win.