Is over-serving alcohol considered personal injury?

The short answer is ‘yes.’ Over-serving alcohol is serving alcohol to an individual who is clearly already intoxicated or who a person should reasonably believe is intoxicated. There are laws against this type of behavior intended to protect people who might not be in a good state of mind when they are out drinking. It creates a burden of responsibility on restaurant and bar owners to ensure that no one is drinking too much. In this article, I will explore a tragic instance of over-serving and why it is considered personal injury.

Very recently, three young men were involved in a car accident after drinking at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, they all perished and the restaurant owner who served them alcohol is being charged with over-serving. The problem with charges like these is that there is no clear bright line that indicates when someone is intoxicated. Some people have higher alcohol tolerances than others, regardless of their size, sex or age. Moreover, some people are better at hiding intoxication than others. My argument isn’t that you can’t know when someone has clearly had too much; with some people, you can tell. My argument is that you can’t always know when someone has had too much; with some people, you just cannot tell. Everyone has a personal responsibility to ensure that they are being healthy and making good choices. The restaurant owner did not ask the young men to enter his restaurant, nor did he force the men to drink, nor did he insist that they drive their own vehicle under the influence. Each of these things the men decided autonomously. Nevertheless, likely due to the tragic outcome of the night, the restaurant owner is liable to be charged with personal injury.

Why does over-serving qualify as a personal injury?

Over-serving alcohol usually isn’t considered personal injury in itself. The only time the charge is actually incited is when over-serving leads to some type of physical accident or injury. In this way, over-serving alcohol can arguably be considered as a partial or whole contributor to a personal injury and can demand legal ramifications. The laws that encompass these instances are referred to as “dram shop” or “liquor liability” laws. Under them, one can effectively sue for any damages incurred from an alcohol-related personal injury. Clawson and Staubes explain the requirements that must be met for a case to be made for personal injury. First, it must be proved that the establishment actually served the alcohol. Next, it must be proved that alcohol continued to be served to the patron even when they were visibly intoxicated or if the bartender had a reasonable belief to think that they were intoxicated based on the number and types of drinks they were serving. Alcohol establishments found guilty of charges of over-serving alcohol can be subject to fines and revocation of liquor licenses.

If you believe that you were over-served alcohol and that contributed to your personal injury, you should contact a lawyer.

Alcohol and Truck Driving: A Deadly Combination

Drivers of smaller vehicles sharing roads with 18-wheelers would never think that the driver of the truck beside or in front of them is sleepy or alcohol-impaired, unless there are obvious signs that would show these. Hundreds of data, however, show that many truck drivers were indeed either falling asleep, asleep, alcohol-impaired prior to an accident. As a matter of fact, with regard to use of alcohol and drugs by truck drivers, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that it actually is the second major reason behind truck accidents.

Drivers operating a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) exceeding 33000 lb, like 18-wheelers, also called big-rigs or semi-trailers, observe a higher standard where alcohol intoxication limit is the issue. Compared to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit imposed on drivers of smaller vehicles, such as cars, SUVs, and pick-ups, the BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%. This means that anyone who will be caught driving with this BAC level can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Big-rig drivers, however, have more to worry about than just having a 0.04% BAC level because those who will be found with a 0.02% BAC level can also be suspended from driving for about 24 hours, while those who will register a 0.08%, even when off-duty, may still be charged with a DUI.

The need and desire to stay awake and alert in order to cover more road miles are what make drivers drink and continue to drive even while feeling the effects of alcohol. This is one of the saddest effects of getting paid by the mile (about .40 cents per mile). However, rather than making them awake and alert, alcohol will only make them sleepier and more impaired.

It is the duty and responsibility of drivers to always stay sober when operating their truck. Alcohol, though, will lessen their ability to safely operate the huge and dangerous vehicles they are driving, putting the lives of so many in danger because alcohol can result to:

  • Slowed and impaired motor control;
  • Inability to remain focused on the roadway;
  • Delayed reaction times;
  • Heightened risk of falling asleep; and,
  • Compromised judgment and decision making abilities

Any act in violation of the laws against drunk-driving can make truck drivers face serious criminal chargers, harsh penalties, and civil liabilities for whatever injuries and damages their drunkenness might cause.

According to the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, despite everything they know about the inherent dangers of the vehicles they operate, the fact is that some truck drivers still choose to get behind the wheel while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As difficult as these decisions are to understand, the consequences of accidents caused by intoxicated truckers can leave victims and their families reeling. Victims, therefore, should be ready to take legal action against the trucker responsible for their accident.

Read that Charlie wants to thank the Charleston personal injury lawyers of the Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group.