Austin Dram Shop Lawyer
In June 2015, after leaving an Austin bar, a woman drove the wrong way on West Ben White Boulevard, hitting another car head-on. She died in the collision. The two men in the other car survived, but suffered serious injuries. And a few months later, they announced their lawsuit against two Austin businesses whose bartenders had allegedly served alcohol to the visibly intoxicated woman before she caused the crash.
Liability When Serving Alcohol
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code contains language commonly referred to as “dram shop laws” – meaning, laws that define civil liability for people serving alcohol. The code says that when an intoxicated person injures another person or damages their property, the victim may have cause to pursue a claim against the party or parties that served the perpetrator alcohol, if:
- The provider served alcohol to a person who was so intoxicated that he/she presented a clear danger to himself/herself, and others
- The intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury or damages
- The provider was over age 21, not a parent, guardian, or spouse, and knowingly served or provided alcohol to a person under age 18, or allowed that person to consume alcohol on the adult’s leased or owned property.
If you or a family member suffered a serious personal injury in an accident with an intoxicated driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The Evans/Reilley Law Firm has years of experience helping DWI personal injury victims in Texas put their lives back on track. Don’t wait to get the help you deserve – call us today at 1-855-414-1012 to request your free consultation.
Like most laws, those applying to the liability of serving alcohol are open to interpretation. To prevail on a claim of liability against a bartender, bar owner, or other provider of alcohol, the victim must be able to prove that the provider served alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated.
Video surveillance footage has become more important in dram shop law cases, because it can help attorneys for the injured prove that a patron was visibly intoxicated before leaving an establishment and causing a crash.
In 2013, police issued a warrant for a man who they said bought drinks for a woman at a bar in Spring, Texas. Video footage showed the woman had consumed 17 shots and four beers in five hours – and the man police arrested bought the woman three shots, which she drank in 10 minutes before she left the bar. She drove the wrong way on Interstate 45 and crashed head-on into another car, killing two people and critically injuring a third.
According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims, a man who caused a DWI crash in 2013 had consumed 20 beers and three to five mixed drinks at a Texarkana bar, and staff made no effort to stop him or sober him up before he left. When he caused the fatal crash, his blood alcohol content was .301 – more than three times the legal level of intoxication in Texas.
In 2013, an Austin bar paid a $45,000 fine in connection with a fatal DUI crash the year before. A Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission investigation had found the bar served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated woman before she left the premises and mistakenly drove into a lake. She and one passenger escaped the vehicle; another did not, and died.
The owner of that bar owns other bars and eateries, one of which was named in a wrongful death suit earlier in 2013. The suit claimed bar staff continued serving drinks to an intoxicated woman, who after leaving, fatally struck a pedestrian and fled the scene.
Restaurant and bar owners and managers are expected to promote the responsible serving of alcohol. But without proper training, staff may fail to identify when patrons have had too much to drink. The TABC offers classes for owners, managers, and servers covering topics that include responsible serving policies, civil liability awareness, and identification of intoxicated patrons.
Some restaurants, bars, and other retail establishments may be lax about responsible alcohol service until they become the subject of a lawsuit and are investigated by the TABC. It’s unfortunate that it often takes a serious or deadly DWI crash to draw attention to negligent alcohol service, but victims and their families might take some comfort in knowing that their suits against negligent providers could stimulate policy changes that save others from drunk drivers.
If an intoxicated driver injured you or your loved one, don’t wait to get help. Request your free consultation today by filling out our online form or calling the Evans/Reilley Law Firm at 1-855-414-1012.