Every state in America has enacted specific laws regarding drinking and driving. A state may word their drunk driving laws differently, but these laws all say the same thing, such as all states agree that it is unlawful to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel. Most every state agrees that there is zero-tolerance for drunk driving.
If you are under the age of 21, it is illegal to,
- Purchase alcohol
- Publicly possess alcohol
- Drink alcohol
You cannot and must not drink and drive or drink alcohol while behind the wheel. While everyone knows that these actions are wrong and unlawful to drink and drive a car, far too many people break this law and risk their lives and other drivers’ lives on the road when driving drunk. Many people who decide to drive a motor vehicle after drinking have the mistaken idea that they can handle themselves and drinking does not affect their driving.
According to this government website, 40 percent of car accidents occur due to drunk driving. You may believe that one alcoholic drink will not affect you, and it is OK to drive after drinking this one alcoholic beverage. However, contrary to what you think, research proves the opposite, that just one alcoholic drink,
- Impairs a driver’s judgment
- Slows reaction times
- Decreases the ability to skillfully control a car
- Significantly raises the risk of causing an accident that would likely injure or kill an innocent victim.
- Cannot perceive surroundings
- Cannot react to emergencies
Who Is Responsible When A Drunk Driver Causes A Car Accident?
Is it possible for someone to be responsible for a driver’s decision to drink even one alcoholic drink and get behind the wheel and cause a car accident?
For example, “Can a bar be held liable for serving alcohol to a customer, knowing that the person will get behind the wheel and drive who knows where, eventually causing a car accident?”
States may vary somewhat in their answer to this question. However, our target state is what the state of New York has to say about its drunk driving laws. In New York, a bar can be held liable for drunk drivers. New York enacted the Dram Shop Act, covering car accidents and cases involving hit and run pedestrians by a drunk driver. New York added two separate obligation laws under the Dram Shop Act. These are as follows.
- When a person is under 21 and is served alcohol, the bar is liable for any car accident that this minor caused because they should have known to check their age before serving them alcohol. The bar was negligent in its actions.
The New York law says that the bar has a duty to not serve minors alcohol and when it does not check the age before serving the alcohol, and the person leaves intoxicated, gets behind the wheel, and causes a car accident, the bar, and the server can be held liable for the drunk driving accident.
A person under 21 with alcohol in their system can be arrested for a BAC of .02. Teens and many adults are not aware that when they obtain their driver’s license, they agree to take a breath test to determine the percentage of alcohol in their system should they be stopped for possible drunk driving. They also agree to requests by the police for blood tests, urine tests, and more, depending on the circumstances.
- Often, a bar may serve alcohol to an unquestionably intoxicated person. The bar should not have served any more alcohol to that person. The bar was negligent in its actions. However, when a person can legally consume alcoholic drinks and make decisions, the bar is not liable because that person chose to drive drunk.
- The flip side of this law says that a bar can be held liable because it fails to refuse alcohol to a person who is intoxicated. The bar has to deny that person any more alcohol. If a bar or bartender continues to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person, the bar and server can be held liable should that person get behind the wheel and cause a drunk driving accident.
The bar also failed in its duty to properly train servers to refuse to serve alcohol to a person who is intoxicated. However, if a guest purchased an alcoholic drink and gave it to the intoxicated person, the bar and the bartender may not be held liable because another guest ordered and paid for it and then gave it.
“How did the bar owner or bartender know that another person bought a drink for that intoxicated person?”
However, a guest who has no connection to the bar can be held responsible if the drunk driver causes an accident.
What Part Do Bartenders Hold in Liability Cases Involving Drunk Drivers?
The New York law does allow an individual bartender to be liable for a drunk driver. Unlike other states, New York’s Dram Shop Act refers to anyone who serves alcohol, not just a bar employee or bar owner. If the bar has multiple bartenders, it may be difficult to prove which bartender served the drunk driver. Bars track their sales in many ways, and some bars never track their sales.
Attorneys who cannot determine which bartender served the defendant alcohol. The bar establishment can still be held liable. All New York bars are responsible for the actions of their servers and bartenders. If you can name the bartender in a lawsuit, you can still name the bar in the lawsuit since they remain responsible for the actions of its employees. When you name a bar in your lawsuit, know that they carry more insurance than any employee. Thus, you undoubtedly may be able to recoup more of your losses.
Not only can a bartender refuse to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person, but the bartender and the bar owner can also initiate steps to help the person recover, thus preventing them from getting behind the wheel and increasing the risk of a car accident that could claim innocent people’s lives.
Bar owners, bartenders, family members, friends, and strangers never let a person drive drunk. The following steps can ensure that a drunk person does not get behind the wheel.
There is no way to quickly get alcohol out of a person’s system. Becoming sober takes time. When a person has only one alcoholic drink, it takes at least one hour for the body’s circulatory system to get rid of the alcohol from that one drink. Being sober means there is no longer any alcohol content in the body.
Add up the number of alcoholic drinks the person drank, and know that it takes one hour for each drink before the body gets rid of the alcohol. For example, three alcoholic beverages would take the body three hours.
That person can be arrested if caught drinking only two alcoholic drinks. These two drinks can raise the BAC or breath test to .08 or higher, putting that person at risk for arrest if caught driving a car.
- Take away the keys from an intoxicated person.
- Arrange for someone to come and get the person and drive them home.
- Call a cab for the person.
- Take the person to your home to spend the night.
- Offer the person coffee.
- An escorted step out into the cold helps.
- A cold shower is practical.
- A high-protein meal helps.
What Happens After an Arrest for Drunk Driving?
If the person tests positive for drunk driving and this is their first offense, they must plan on paying a hefty fine and court costs. Their driver’s license may be suspended.
Second Offenders and Beyond
Expect worse penalties, such as serving jail time and suspension of a driver’s license in addition to higher fines.
New York considers drunk driving a serious offense, no matter if it is the first offense. The person will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Can Bar Owners Be Held Libel for Those Who Chose to Drive After Drinking Alcohol?
When a drunk driver causes a car accident, you can possibly blame multiple people for the accident. New York’s drunk driving laws can become complicated and lead to a particular misunderstanding of these laws. For this reason, you must hire a negligent accident, injury, death attorney to fight for your victims’ rights.
Because there can be multiple people indirectly involved in your car accident, it can be easy to understand how so many people can be held responsible for this person’s lousy decision-making ability to drive while under alcohol influence.
It is difficult to understand how a bar owner can and cannot be held liable in these drunk driving cases because the drunk decided to drive after drinking alcohol. The drunk was over 21 and is an independent decision-maker.
The New York law looks at the bar owner’s duty to protect other people from a drunk who wants to make the wrong decision of getting behind the wheel drunk, thus, risking a severe car accident of other drivers.
The bar owner had breached a duty to protect this drunk from other drivers. Yet, many other cases uphold the innocence of bar owners when a patron leaves their bar intoxicated and gets behind the wheel. Every case is different and has varying degrees of complexity.
- When the bar owner knowingly serves a person alcohol and knows the person is already drunk, the bar owner breaches a duty to keep the public safe.
- A breach of duty to the public happens when the bar owner servers a minor under 21 or serves alcohol to an intoxicated guest; the bar owner is held liable.
Steps to Take If You are in a Car Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver
It is helpful for accident victims and their families to understand that accidents would never happen were it not for an element of negligence on the part of a person, persons, company, business, or product.
Negligent actions always lead to careless and unnecessary accidents. Negligent acts by one person or persons mean that an innocent person will undoubtedly fall victim to a drunk driver’s actions. There can be an extensive list of innocent yet responsible people who could have stopped this drunk from getting behind the wheel. This list of people who indirectly connect to your car accident can be held liable.
Unfortunately, the burden of proof always lies with the victim, their family, and our attorneys. We must prove these negligent acts by another person or persons caused a breach of duty to keep you and others you share the roadways safe.
You must take the following steps when your car accident is caused by a drunk driver. If you are hurt and cannot do the following, try to get a witness, friend, or family member to gather the following vital information for you.
- You must call 9-1-1 or appoint someone to call the police.
- Call your attorney. It is wise to keep our phone number on your car’s dashboard if you need to call us. We are available and at your service 24/7.
If we can come immediately to the accident site, we will come while the accident is fresh. We will start an on-site investigation and gather our own pictures. We will also get witness information.
- Give your statement of what you think happened to the police. The police will file an accident report. *Be advised by your attorney to choose your words wisely.
We understand the stress you are under after a drunk driver hits your car. However, you must not lead anyone to believe that you may be at fault for causing this accident when you were, in fact, another innocent victim of a drunk driver.
When you make certain statements, these remarks can quickly and easily lead to misleading comments or a possible admission of guilt. What you say and the words you speak to the police and medical staff, such as in the following examples, can damage your compensation case. We cannot stress to you enough to use your words wisely.
“I am so sorry about this accident.”
“I may have been at fault.”
- No matter how minor you think your injuries are, it is vital to be checked by an emergency room doctor.
- Get pictures of the accident site.
- Get witness names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Exchange insurance information with those involved in the accident.
- Get copies of all reports, such as the police report, witness statements, doctors’ reports, and first responders.
What Should You Do If a Drunk Driver Causes Your Car Accident and Flees from the Scene?
We have represented victims whose car was hit by a drunk driver, and that driver fled the scene. We advise you to call the police and your negligent accident attorney as soon as possible.
Give the police a description of the drunk driver’s car if you can. Perhaps you were fortunate to get the license plate number and the car’s make, model, and color. The police should be able to locate the driver. However, the police may not be able to find the driver. You must file a police report and be checked out by a doctor for injuries.
Taking these steps helps you to file a claim with your insurance company. You can still get a settlement from your insurance company for the damages incurred to your vehicle and the injuries you suffered. You still need an attorney to help you fight for your victim’s rights. We work hard to get you the insurance settlement you deserve.
Is It Time to Hire a Negligent Accident, Injury, Death New York Attorney?
The time to hire a seasoned, licensed, negligent accident, injury, death attorney is immediate. Never think that you can handle all aspects of your car accident caused by a drunk driver. If you fall victim to a drunk driver’s actions and are involved in a car accident, they caused, you need to call us as soon as possible. We need to hear the facts and review your case.
Your call to us is a free, no-obligation consultation call for help. If you cannot come to us, we can come to you, or perhaps we can do a phone consultation with you or your family. We will tell you if you have a negligent accident case against a drunk driver.
Never worry about our fee for services, because if we do not win your case, we do not get paid. Please know that we have an attractive track record for winning drunk driving car accident cases. Never fight a negligent accident case by yourself. You will never win fair compensation or settlement without a seasoned, experienced negligent attorney.
Our investigative process determines who is at fault for this untimely accident. We know how to fight insurance companies and their underhanded tactics. You may believe that your insurance agent and their company are your friends; after all, you are all on a first-name basis because your insurance company has cared for your car insurance needs for a long time. That is until you file a significant compensation claim with your insurance company and the friendliness you once thought you had with your agent is no longer there.
Insurance companies try not to pay any more money to you than they must pay. Direct settlements made to victims for damages caused by a drunk driver are never enough to pay for your mounting debt and unexpected expenses.
Never make the mistake of accepting any settlement offers by insurance companies until you inform your attorney of their intent. Once you take a settlement offer, you soon find out that this settlement is not nearly enough to pay for all accident-related costs. You cannot refile for another settlement. Once you accept a settlement offer, your negligent accident case closes.
Depending on your accident circumstances, you may be able to seek a sizeable compensation that takes care of all unexpected expenses, past, present, and far into the future.
Your case may dictate that you file a claim for punitive damages from everyone on the list who was indirectly responsible for your accident. Filing a lawsuit against indirectly responsible parties helps these people to stop and think what they did was wrong. Your actions may help prevent another person from falling victim to a drunk driver.
When you hire our drunk driver accident lawyer to protect your victims’ rights and advocate for you and your family, you never have to worry about the many calls you will receive from the drunk driver’s legal team and insurance companies. Please refer callers to our office for our attorneys to handle.
All you need to do is concentrate on getting well and following your doctors’ recommendations for recovery.