In a report publicized today in local media, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (tabc) listed numerous local bars that were cited for “overserving” customers during 2016. Those bars included: Bombshell’s Restaurant and Bar; F Bar; Midtown Drinkery; Just Two More; Leslie’s Sports Bar; Fiesta Latina Nite Club; and Live Sports Bar.
The tabc focuses especially upon citing those who serve underage patrons, and on those who “overserve” customers who are intoxicated. Both the bar and its employees are required to be trained to identify intoxicated customers and to refuse to continue to serve them. As the report confirms, however, not all establishments follow the law. And, since the tabc cannot be continually present in the thousands of bars in Texas, it relies upon the public in part to report violations. It has a mobile app for that, an email address, and even a hotline: 888-THE-TABC.
These steps are critical for the safety of Texans who use our public roadways. All of us have the right to be safe from the extreme dangers imposed upon motorists by intoxicated drivers. And those who profit from the selling of alcohol ought to exert the greatest effort to prevent drunk driving.
Ironically, one of the biggest loopholes in liability law protects bars from bearing responsibility for their operations. Normally, when an employee of a business, while acting in the course and scope of his employment, causes an injury to another, the business is liable along with the employee for the damages he caused. This legal principle applies to almost every industry and company. Except, that is, to bars whose employees overserve patrons. A bar can avoid all liability for the violations of the law by its wait-staff due to serving intoxicated patrons by simply showing that it provided a tabc course. If it does, then it cannot be liable (unless the victim proves that the bar encouraged the servers to violate the law). Bars call this the “safe harbor,” but in reality it is a very unsafe harbor for those using the public streets. That is because the bars can dodge liability, and put all of it on the wait-staff, many of whom have little or no money to pay for the huge medical bills and funeral bills inflicted upon others by their intoxicated customers. If we are serious about eliminating drunk driving, it is time for that loophole to be closed.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.