Personal Injury

Alcohol and Liability

By May 26, 2014No Comments

According to the people at, colleges are in session and young adults are gaining access to alcohol despite the 21 year old drinking age, this is nothing new. We are coming to the end of the high school year and we know our young adults and teens are experimenting with adult beverages. For many it is a rite of passage, for some, a response to peer pressure. Regardless of the cause, we know it is not a good thing at a tender age. Drunk and impaired driving is a scourge on American society. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) analyzed and found a morsel of good news: “deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 4.9% in 2010, taking 10,228 lives compared to 10,759 in 2009′.

Alcohol related crashes injure countless others and create an incredible financial burden on our healthcare system and limited governmental resources. Alcohol addiction can only be treated by addiction treatment help  by experts at rehab centers. We needn’t go into details and statistics to validate this proposition. We all know or heard of someone from our neighborhood or place of business whose life has been impacted by injury or death from an alcohol related event. The question is better framed as ‘what is our Legislature doing’ to curb this very real and prevalent danger. The answer is actually, very little. For the older segments of our population, the term Dram or Dram shop relates to a barroom or a saloon. Our governmental regulation of bars and other alcohol establishments is often referred to as the Dram Shop Act.

The legislature created Florida Statute 768.125. This Statute regulates and limits the liability of the bar for serving alcohol to a patron who in turn causes injury or death to themselves and or a third party. The cruel irony is that the Statute, rather than try to regulate the subject, in reality it serves to protect the bar from civil liability to victims with two significant exceptions.The place where lawyers were needed and people can hire experts to provide legal aid is easier to access now.

If the facility sold alcohol to a minor who in turn causes injury or death to himself or third parties, the bar owner can be found civilly liable and pay damages to the under-age patron and or his victims. The Statute does not limit the claims for relief to automobile circumstances only.

The second exception is where a jury can be shown that the bar ‘ knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages …’ The burden of proof is very difficult. It is time for the legislature to put some teeth in this Statute so that it can deal with several outstanding issues involving social hosts who serve guests adult beverages. As a community, we need to take more aggressive steps to control and manage this problem.

If you know someone who is the victim of a drunk or impaired driver, they should seek competent, experienced legal counsel who have significant experience with the civil damages side of drunk driving. We must be able to regulate the source of this alcohol and make the sellers accountable if we expect to rid our community of the dangers of impaired driving and underage drinking.