Drunk Driving and the Dram Shop Laws

Drunk driving collisions are often some of the most horrific car accidents, leaving the victim of the drunk driver's actions severely injured or dead. Much has been done to combat drunk driving over the years and much more must be done to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. If a person is injured by a drunk driver in a car accident, they have a direct claim against the drunk driver, their insurance, their business, and their property. However, when a drunk driver has no insurance and no meaningful assets to cover the victim's injuries, the victim must look for other avenues to obtain compensation for what the defendant has done to them.

One avenue that the state of Texas allows victims of drunk driving to pursue is the bar or tavern that served the defendant alcohol beyond the point of intoxication. These cases are called Dram Shop Cases. Dram shop cases are where the bar or tavern will be liable for the over service of patrons who then get behind the wheel and injure someone because of being drunk.

However, someone being "intoxicated" is still a subjective standard, just like all standards of evaluation. Additionally, the law requires a witness placing the defendant at the business that over served and observing the defendant intoxicated either shortly after service or before service. The courts have allowed blood alcohol content to be admitted to show intoxication but such evidence must also include an eye witness stating the intoxication level of the defendant at the time he was served.

Evidence that could be used to show that the defendant was intoxicated and over served includes bar tabs, bank and credit card statements, BAC levels after the accident, forensic reconstruction of alcohol levels throughout the night, and witnesses who saw the defendant at the bar or shortly after.

​​Bars, taverns, and restaurants that are licensed to sell liquor to patrons are required to properly train employees how to determine if a patron has had too much to drink.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a drunk driver, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1-800-594-4884.

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