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Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Investigates Fatality

On February 28, 2018, Veronica Rivas allegedly rear-ended a car driven by Shayla Joseph. Ms. Joseph’s 9-month-old daughter was also in the car, and both she and her daughter were killed. Ms. Rivas was said to have been traveling at a high speed when the crash occurred on the southbound service road of the Gulf Freeway near El Dorado.

Ms. Rivas, who at 20 years old cannot legally buy or be served alcohol at a bar, reportedly had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.21, more than twice the permissible limit of 0.08. She has since been charged with intoxicated manslaughter.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating to discover where Ms. Rivas obtained the alcohol. If it determines that a business licensed to sell alcohol served Ms. Rivas, the business could have its license suspended and be required to pay a civil fine. In addition, the server could face a misdemeanor charge.

Hopefully, these measures will be taken if the bar where Ms. Rivas was served can be properly identified. This may provide some necessary help. Because the laws of Texas tend to protect bars from civil liability when they illegally overserve intoxicated patrons. In particular, the law provides a chance for the bar to escape responsibility for the harm it causes by merely directing its employees to attend a class. This differs from virtually every other form of case; in Texas, nearly every type of business is liable for the harm caused by the negligence and misconduct of its employees acting in the course of their employment. So, Texas gives bars a benefit that is not provided to any other kind of business: a bar’s employees can violate the law and contribute to cause tremendous damages, even fatalities, yet the bar can walk away without any responsibility whatsoever, as long as certain classes have been provided to the staff. Clearly, this misguided policy of giving preferential treatment to bars does not work and should be changed.

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

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