Holding Texas Bars Accountable For Over Serving A Drunk Driver
Written by greg on June 22, 2014
Back in 1987 the Texas Dram Shop Act was enacted to be the exclusive remedy for suits against bars and clubs that over served their customers. In the Act, a provider may be held accountable under certain circumstances for providing drinks to someone who is “obviously intoxicated” to the point where they are presenting a clear danger to themselves or others.
It is a fine line between holding purveyors of alcohol accountable for over serving their customers and trying to protect establishments from litigation. In Texas, the scale is tipped in favor of discouraging litigation and protecting establishments. Nevertheless, with hard work and a good attorney bars can be held responsible for accidents in many cases.
One of the defenses provided to protect establishments in the state of Texas is a statutory defense against liability under a “Safe Harbor”. This defense is codified in Section 106.14 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. While some authors suggest that the safe harbor does not provide much actual protection to establishments, the truth of the matter is that the burden placed upon someone victimized by a drunk driver is fairly great in Texas.
The Safe Harbor defense is intended to encourage those who are licensed to sell or dispense alcohol to train their employees through a commission approved summer training program. If the bar or club has had its employees attend such a program and has not directly or indirectly encouraged an employee to violate the alcohol beverage code the safe harbor defense should apply.
Attorneys handling suits against bars or clubs as a result of a drunk driving accident that involved serious injury or death generally look to establish that the employer alcohol provider, encouraged over serving for profit.
Discovery and a dram shop case in Texas can be interesting in the deposition of employees of the borrower club and discovery of the actual procedures utilized by the establishment to ensure that customers are not allowed over serve alcohol.
There is little doubt that if the Texas political leaders decided to seriously attack drunk driving accidents, that strengthening the dram shop act would be a giant first step toward protecting Texas families. If the commercial providers of alcohol are concerned about liability for over serving Texas consumers, the business will be much more interested in how many drinks they serve their customers and less in maximizing profits.
If you are loved one have been injured in a DWI or DUI accident call the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no obligation consultation about your rights and options. 281-587-1111.
Click here to view the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code.