DUI (driving under the influence) with injury charge is a serious offense that carries heavy penalties and the likelihood
that both real and punitive damages will be paid to the injured party
by the drunk driver. But simply dropping the blame for a drunk driving
accident onto the lap of the intoxicated motorist is not considering the
entirety of what led up to that event. In Alabama, dram shop laws can
extend some of the liability to the people who served the motorist alcohol
in the first place.
Alabama’s Dram Shop Law
In the state of Alabama, anyone who is visibly intoxicated must be cut
off from alcohol served by others, such as vendors and social hosts. This
means bartenders cannot sell drinks to overly intoxicated patrons, and
friends at events and gatherings need to make a reasonable attempt to
limit the intoxication of their guests. Dram shop laws are meant not only
to encourage the health of the intoxicated individual but also that of
those around them, specifically in terms of DUI-related car accidents.
If it can be shown that a vendor or social host kept serving alcohol to
an intoxicated person, they could be held partially liable for any damage
they cause to others while driving later. Dram shop lawsuits are usually
secondary to car accident claims; there will be one lawsuit against the
drunk driver and another against the vendor or social host, each seeking
different amounts of damages based on determined liability.
How Can Dram Shop Laws Help with DUI Cases?
In functionality, Alabama’s dram shop laws are strictly for civil
lawsuits and paying out damages to parties injured in drunk driving accidents.
However, the fact that Alabama recognizes lapses in vendor and social
host responsibility can work well for DUI defense cases. It could be argued
that a drunk driver did not realize how intoxicated they were due to host
encouragement to keep drinking; it may also be said that a host or vendor
that gets someone drunk and allows them to drive has played a participating
role in both the crime of drunk driving and any resulting crashes.
Completely dismissing a DUI charge based solely on dram shop law influence
is unlikely. What is possible, though, is having charges or sentencing
reduced. In some cases, this is all that a DUI defendant can hope for,
so that possibility should not be overlooked. If you would like to know
more about Alabama’s dram shop laws and DUI defense options, call
205.800.8596 to connect with Tidwell Law Group, LLC. Our Birmingham DUI attorney can
provide you with insight and representation backed by 10+ years of legal
contact us at your first chance.