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View Poll Results: Is a bartender liable for a drunk driver?
Yes, the bar is liable 19 34.55%
No, the bar did nothing wrong 33 60.00%
Drinking makes Twikoff fun 3 5.45%
Voters: 55. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-17-04, 08:59 AM   #26
Bandoman
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Red Dog stole my post.

This is a legislature-created tort (although common law was headed that way in many states before Dram Shop Acts were passed).
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Old 12-17-04, 09:03 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandoman
Red Dog stole my post.

This is a legislature-created tort (although common law was headed that way in many states before Dram Shop Acts were passed).

Sorry - in the last month, it is something I have done some personal research on, unfortunately.

I would say this - coming from personal experience, even if Dram Shop was available in Maryland, I would not pursue it. If a bartender poured a bottle of Jack into a guy's mouth and then handed him keys, okay, I could see it there. Otherwise, I don't think it is right to assign 3rd party liability to it.
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Old 12-17-04, 10:00 AM   #28
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From a legal standpoint, obviously the bartender is liable if the state has the dram-shop law thingy. I know that my uncle-in-law owns a bar and he has to have MAJOR insurance coverage for this sort of thing.

Personally, I think it's crap. More of the finger-pointing litigious society crap going on instead of personal responsibility. You're a fucking adult, you need to know when you're okay to drive and when you shouldn't. If you can't make the distinction, stay home and drink.

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Old 12-17-04, 10:44 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xander
From a legal standpoint, obviously the bartender is liable if the state has the dram-shop law thingy. I know that my uncle-in-law owns a bar and he has to have MAJOR insurance coverage for this sort of thing.

Personally, I think it's crap. More of the finger-pointing litigious society crap going on instead of personal responsibility. You're a fucking adult, you need to know when you're okay to drive and when you shouldn't. If you can't make the distinction, stay home and drink.

X
So,

Bartenders shouldn't be held accoutable at all? It's not that hard to tell if someone is shit-faced.
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Old 12-17-04, 11:57 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brain Stew
Bartenders shouldn't be held accoutable at all? It's not that hard to tell if someone is shit-faced.
So what should a bartender do then, in that situation? Forcibly stop the person from leaving the premises? How, exactly, is a bar supposed to prevent such things? Considering they're legally liable, they should have the right to take actions to stop such things, don't you think?

However, they don't have those rights. They cannot hold people against their will. They cannot take steps to prevent such things from occurring. They can offer taxi service, they can take a persons keys away, etc, etc, but they can't actually detain a person and prevent them from hurting themselves and others. Therefore they're being held accountable without having actual accountability over the situation. It is unfair, quite simply.
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Old 12-17-04, 11:57 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brain Stew
So,

Bartenders shouldn't be held accoutable at all? It's not that hard to tell if someone is shit-faced.
Why should another person be responsible for MY decisions? I'm an adult, fully-functioning and capable of making rational choices. If I choose to get drunk and then choose to drive home, that's my fault. I'm the idiot, and I'm the one who should take the responsibility. I don't feel it's fair to ask bartenders to babysit their customers. Who do we blame when the person gets drunk at home? The grocery clerk who sold them the booze? The liquor manufacturer? I just kind of think that people are too quick to point fingers anywhere but themselves these days. McDonald's got me fat, the bartender got me drunk. Blah blah blah.

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Old 12-17-04, 12:01 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xander
Why should another person be responsible for MY decisions? I'm an adult, fully-functioning and capable of making rational choices. If I choose to get drunk and then choose to drive home, that's my fault. I'm the idiot, and I'm the one who should take the responsibility. I don't feel it's fair to ask bartenders to babysit their customers. Who do we blame when the person gets drunk at home? The grocery clerk who sold them the booze? The liquor manufacturer? I just kind of think that people are too quick to point fingers anywhere but themselves these days. McDonald's got me fat, the bartender got me drunk. Blah blah blah.

X
I'm not pointing fingers. I am trying to force bartenders not to continuously serve drunks to the point of oblivion just for the sake of preserving a free market. A RESPONSIBLE bartender would have no problem with this. But if all you are concerned about is money and not the responsibility that comes with it, I guess you shouldn't be a bartender.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:09 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Dog
Depends on the state and whether it has a Dram Shop Act. A Dram Shop statute refers to liability of establishments arising out of the sale of alcohol to obviously intoxicated persons or minor who subsequently cause death or injury to third-parties as a result of alcohol-related crashes. Locally, Maryland and Virginia do not have such laws, so bars and bartenders are not liable for drunk driving accidents. Looks like Texas does have a Dram Shop Act.
I like Illinois' Dram Shop act which limits the liability a bar has from a customer who then injures himself, or others. Keeps insurance costs reasonable for liquor establishments.

By the way, if anybody was wondering, a "dram" is an old term for some small amount of liquor, thus a "dram shop" was a bar.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:18 PM   #34
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I call bullshit on bartenders needing to be able to spot drunk people and stop serving them, simply because in a bar with 100+ people, dim lights, loud music, etc. you can't always tell if a person's drunk or not.

The other night I was shitfaced drunk, had easily 8-10 shots of liquor in me, and yet had a 30 minute conversation on the way home with her in the car and she couldn't even tell that I was drunk. And I'm not the only one who can be drunk and show no signs of it.

Yet most of you expect a bartender to be able to discern if a person's drunk or not? Yeah, some people fall off of bar stools with regularity and it's quite obvious -- but not everyone is a clumsy fool with a glazed over look in their eye and a speech impediment when they're drunk.

And Otto's spot on with his assessment too. I can just see a bartender being nailed for false imprisonment and/or kidnapping for trying to stop a drunk guy from driving home.

I had to have surgery on my finger this summer due to something that happened while I was drunk. Lots of pain and suffering. Maybe I should sue the bar/bartender for medical costs and monetary compensation? What's the difference in doing this vs. the article cited above?
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Old 12-17-04, 12:22 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Scorcho
I call bullshit on bartenders needing to be able to spot drunk people and stop serving them, simply because in a bar with 100+ people, dim lights, loud music, etc. you can't always tell if a person's drunk or not.

Yep. I don't believe there is a duty on the part of the bar here. One, a person could get drunk in a bar without ever seeing a bartender (other people buying the drinks). Two, how is the bar supposed to know what mode of transportation each customer is using to leave the area of the bar.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:28 PM   #36
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The bartender's duty isn't to determine who is drunk and who isn't. The duty is to refrain from serving alcohol to someone who is visibly drunk, i.e., shows concrete, objective signs od intoxication.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:31 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandoman
The bartender's duty isn't to determine who is drunk and who isn't. The duty is to refrain from serving alcohol to someone who is visibly drunk, i.e., shows concrete, objective signs od intoxication.


That's all well and good, but I don't see carbon blobs on juries being able to make this distinction, therefore better to not have Dram Shop statutes.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:31 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandoman
The bartender's duty isn't to determine who is drunk and who isn't. The duty is to refrain from serving alcohol to someone who is visibly drunk, i.e., shows concrete, objective signs od intoxication.
So the burden is on the prosecution to prove that the bartender acted negligently, correct?

And how are you going to prove that this guy's friends weren't buying him drinks all night and that he never once approached the bar?

And how are you going to prove that this guy had visible signs of being drunk? As I already stated, not everybody shows clearcut signs of intoxication while drinking.

This is a very obvious case of yet another "pass-the-buck" lack of personal responsibility that our society is plagued with.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:33 PM   #39
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Toxicology reports now show that the husband had a blood alcohol content of .24 and the wife had .33, which is .02 away from alcohol poisoning.

Apparently, at one point the husband pulled his motorcycle into the bar and did burnouts, filling the place with smoke. It wasn't like he snuck it in, so obviously no one told him that it might be a bad idea in his drunken state.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:40 PM   #40
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So how is that still the bartender's fault?
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Old 12-17-04, 12:44 PM   #41
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Every negligence case is about proving that the defendant breached the applicable duty. There has to be evidence that the patron was visibly drunk and that the bartender knew it yet served acohol to that patron anyway.

Similarly, having a BAC of .08 doesn't automatically establish negligence in the event of an accident, it's just strong (albeit very strong) evidence of negligence.
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Old 12-17-04, 01:11 PM   #42
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for those using the mantra of "personal responsibility", I think the bartender has to take some personal responisibility for the drinks they serve. If you tend bar at a roadhouse, you know everyone is driving home. If someone is obviously intoxicated and you continue to serve them drinks then let them walk out, you should have to take some "personal repsonsibility" for your actions. If you are pretty darn sure that they are going to drive, I don't think you should be able to avoid all liability claiming "personal responsibility", that seems like horseshit.

But I will admit that there is an awful lot of grey area here. Before I make a bar liable, I'd want it to be very obvious that the guy was wasted and also pretty likely that he's driving.
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Old 12-17-04, 01:23 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LurkerDan
If you tend bar at a roadhouse, you know everyone is driving home. If someone is obviously intoxicated and you continue to serve them drinks then let them walk out, you should have to take some "personal repsonsibility" for your actions.
Umm yeah I didn't realize that everyone drove to roadhouses alone and left alone in their own car. My bad.

I also had no idea that bartenders are also babysitters.
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Old 12-17-04, 01:23 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brain Stew
I'm not pointing fingers. I am trying to force bartenders not to continuously serve drunks to the point of oblivion just for the sake of preserving a free market. A RESPONSIBLE bartender would have no problem with this. But if all you are concerned about is money and not the responsibility that comes with it, I guess you shouldn't be a bartender.
Just to clarify, I wasn't trying to say that anyone in here was pointing fingers. Just the general tendency of society these days, it seems like. But I still don't agree that it should be the bartender's responsibility to keep track of which people are drunk, which people are driving, which people have friends driving them, which people are calling cabs, which people live a block away and are WALKING home, etc. Okay, if a bartender KNOWS for a fact that a person is falling down drunk, KNOWS the guy is going to try to drive home, it would be the decent thing to do to try and get him a cab or keep him from driving. But I don't think he should be liable for anything if something bad happens. He wasn't forcibly pouring drinks down anyone's throat.

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Old 12-17-04, 01:36 PM   #45
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<---- Points finger at everyone in this thread.






In most successful Dram Shop cases, the drunk driver is held primarily responsible while the bar is held secondarily responsible, if at all. The majority of the balme goes to the drinker, as it should be. The problem arises when the drunk driver has either no insurance or very limited insurance. In many states the deep-pocket bar is then required to make up the shortfall (on the public policy theory that the secondarily responsible "bad guy" should bear the burden of paying the shortfall, rather than having the innocent plaintiff bear the burden and not recover the full value of his/her claim.)
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Old 12-17-04, 01:43 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandoman
<---- Points finger at everyone in this thread.






In most successful Dram Shop cases, the drunk driver is held primarily responsible while the bar is held secondarily responsible, if at all. The majority of the balme goes to the drinker, as it should be. The problem arises when the drunk driver has either no insurance or very limited insurance. In many states the deep-pocket bar is then required to make up the shortfall (on the public policy theory that the secondarily responsible "bad guy" should bear the burden of paying the shortfall, rather than having the innocent plaintiff bear the burden and not recover the full value of his/her claim.)

Of course and considering that a drunk driver could easily be judgment-proof and only have a standard 100/300 insurance policy (this scenario is quite common I would guess), we know who will pay under Dram Shop if death and/or serious injury is caused. I think even most of the non-lawyers are aware of this. However, even if Dram Shop is available, I wouldn't pursue it because I just don't think it is correct. As I said before, the deep pockets aspect concerns me as does a juror's ability to assess breach on the part of the bar/bartender.
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Old 12-17-04, 02:05 PM   #47
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Here is an article about the incident. I am of the camp that it was pretty obvious these idiots were drunk given the fact that he brought the bike into the bar and burned a hole in it. In more of a turn, there were off-duty active police officers there as well and they did nothing to stop them from going home either. Anyway...


http://www.kvue.com/news/top/stories....16e066f6.html

TABC accuses bar staffers of serving Jacobsons after they were drunk

02:01 PM CST on Friday, December 17, 2004


SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News



Servers at a bar where an APD commander and her husband, a former detective, drank before a weekend motorcycle crash that took their lives served the man as many as three beers after he drove his motorcycle into the bar and burned a hole through the vinyl tile with his back wheel, a spokesman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said Thursday.

>
KVUE News
Austin police provide an escort in the afternoon funeral of the Jacobsons.
The servers were named in administrative filings on Thursday by the TABC. The TABC is also trying to revoke the liquor license of the bar where the two work.


"If they're own fellow officers didn't recognize the fact that they were intoxicated enough to go out and kill themselves, [then how] am I supposed to?" said Bob Bailey, owner of Cedars Bar & Grill.


Candi Lou Summers was accused in an administrative filing on Thursday with serving alcohol to an intoxicated patron. She had earlier been charged with being intoxicated herself while serving alcohol. Her employer denies she was drunk.


The accusations stem from the Saturday evening deaths of Austin Police Department Commander Shauna Jacobson and her husband, retired detective Kurt Jacobson.


The two were part of a group of police and others taking part in a fundraiser for an APD employee with multiple sclerosis. The last stop on the charity motorcycle ride was the Cedars Bar and Grill on Texas 71.


At one point during the fundraiser, Kurt Jacobson, who also had multiple sclerosis, rode his Harley into the bar and revved the engine to such an extreme that his back tire burned a hole through the vinyl flooring.


After that incident, Kurt Jacobson was served as many as three beers before he drove away from the bar with his wife, according to an official with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.


Minutes later, their motorcycle struck a guardrail and they were killed. Preliminary toxicology results showed that Kurt Jacobson had a blood alcohol count of .24 and that Shauna Jacobson had a blood alcohol count of .33.


Dr. Robert Bayardo, Travis County Medical Examiner, said Wednesday that the two would have consumed between 10 and 12 beers in the hours before their deaths.


It is against the law in Texas for a bartender to serve alcohol to someone who is intoxicated. A TABC spokesman said the agency would turn the case over the Travis County Attorney's Office next week and that prosecutors there would decide if criminal charges will be filed.


Meanwhile, the Jacobsons, who both had celebrated careers with APD, were eulogized and buried in a South Austin cemetery with full police honors. Their funeral was attended by over 1,000 people, including several Austin City Council members.
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Old 12-17-04, 02:05 PM   #48
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Red Dog stole my post, then Bandoman stole my post about Red Dog stealing my post.

Here's the relevant part of Texas's Dram Shop Act:
Quote:
Providing, selling, or serving an alcoholic beverage may be made the basis of a statutory cause of action under this chapter and may be made the basis of a revocation proceeding under Section 6.01(b) of this code upon proof that:

(1) at the time the provision occurred it was apparent to the provider that the individual being sold, served, or provided with an alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others; and

(2) the intoxication of the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.
Tex. Alc. Bev. Code 2.02(b).

I think it's funny that Texas has a separate Alcoholic Beverage Code.

This brings back the memories, since my first legal writing assignment way back when I firts got to law school involved the Illinois Dram Shop Act.
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Old 12-17-04, 02:22 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erasmus
Toxicology reports now show that the husband had a blood alcohol content of .24 and the wife had .33, which is .02 away from alcohol poisoning.
The numbers really don't mean anything. You give a beer to a woman who never drinks and she will be below 0.08 but may be really drunk. Take an alcoholic and give him 30 beers who blows .2 and he may not be as "drunk" as the woman. Still, them blowing this high obviously puts them in the "had too much to drink to drive" category. I also vote that the bar should only be at fault if it was obvious that they had way too much to drink and they weren't cut off. People need to be held accountable for their own actions.

On a similar topic, I also think bars currently are at fault if someone underage is drinking with a false ID. I would think that if the ID looks valid, then it isn't the bar's fault that underage people got into the bar. The law doesn't agree and the bar can lose their license over the deal. Again, if it's an obvious fake that is one thing, but a good one shouldn't be the bar's fault IMHO.
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Old 12-17-04, 02:31 PM   #50
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I don't get why the police weren't called?

If I drove a motorbike into a fuckin bar and did a burnout I'm sure as hell the cops would be there.
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