Drunk Driving, Accidents, and Responsibility

In the state of Florida and throughout the region drunk driving causes devastating accidents. In 2014, over 28% of all traffic deaths in the state involved someone driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. The number of repeat offenders is also up. Three- and 5-time DUI offenders totaled over 100,000 and 10,000 respectively. While statistics such as these cause lawmakers to talk tough about reform, the fact is that too many people continue to drive drunk.

One selfish choice to get behind the wheel while drunk can alter the lives of innocent people forever. When this happens, drivers and other responsible parties should be made to pay for the damages they cause. This is why Florida has enacted liability laws regarding those who serve alcohol to drunk drivers.

Florida’s Dram Shop Laws

A dram shop is a historical term for an establishment that provides alcohol to the public. Dram shop laws are the laws, rules, and regulations that establish how and when a provider of alcohol can be held liable for the damages a drunk driver causes. Typically this includes bars, pubs, restaurants, and even private homes. Of course, alcohol is a big part of social functions, dining, celebrations, and gatherings in general. But those providing alcohol in any function have a duty to do so responsibly.

Florida’s dram shop laws can be found in Florida Statutes 768.125. At first glance, the law is written in a way that seems to absolve alcohol because it makes a sweeping statement that alcohol providers to those of legal drinking age will not be held liable for accidents they cause. But there are two exceptions to this waiver of liability. Under the statute a person, business, or entity may be held liable when:

  • They provide alcohol to a minor who gets into an accident or causes damage;

  • They knowingly provide alcohol to someone who is habitually addicted to alcohol.

As a result, providers of alcohol in any capacity are on notice to serve alcohol responsibly.

Panama City Area Accident and Injury Attorney

In the course of enforcing these dram shop laws and making those who irresponsibly serve alcohol pay for their negligence, opposite sides will fight over whether a provider knew the person served was addicted. That is a fight that must be had when a bar, pub, restaurant, or private citizen negligently and knowingly provides alcohol to an addict and that addict later gets into an accident.

At the Pittman Firm, our team of accident and injury professionals takes each drunk driving accident very seriously. We will investigate the facts and help ensure that those responsible are made to pay for their negligence. Establishments and others who fail to stop serving someone who is clearly addicted to alcohol should be made to pay for the damages those people cause. If you have been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, contact us. We look forward to going over your case with you.

See related blog posts: In an Accident With a Drunk Driver: Now What?; Can You Handle Your Own Personal Injury Case?.

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