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New Panama City Ordinance will Keep Bars Open till 4:00 a.m.

According to an NBC Miami report, Panama City Commissioners recently approved a measure that will allow Panama City bars to stay open until 4:00 a.m. The new closing time for Panama City bars is two hours later than both Bay County and Panama City Beach bars. The new ordinance passed on a split vote over safety concerns. Despite those concerns, the allure of having visiting spring breakers travel to Panama City and spend money after the beach’s closing time won a majority of the Commissioners over.

The impact of passing this new ordinance remains to be seen. Some expect that spring breakers will use cabs and shuttles to get from the beach to Panama City, but others are not so sure. According to a report by Forbes, the most dangerous time to be on the road is between 12:00 a.m. and 4 a.m., the exact times Panama City is hoping to attract more customers to their bars. In light of the new ordinance being passed, it is a good time to review some of Florida’s laws that may be impacted as a result of the new Panama City ordinance that will keep bars open later.

Florida’s Dram Shop Laws

Dram shop laws originate from times when taverns, or shops, sold alcohol in drams, a measurement of spirits. If a shop sold too much alcohol to someone, or to someone who was a known alcoholic, the shop would be held liable for any accidents caused as a result. Each state has their own dram shop laws, and Florida’s dram shop laws are quite narrow. Under Florida law, establishments selling alcohol will only be held liable in two different ways. First, if they “willfully” and “unlawfully” sell alcohol to any person who is underage; and second, if the establishments “knowingly” sell alcohol to any person that is habitually addicted to alcohol (you can read the law here). Since many spring breakers are colllege aged, and therefore underaged, the newly passed ordinance may impact at least one part of Florida’s dram shop law.

Florida’s DUI Laws

In Florida, someone driving under the influence can be convicted of a DUI in one of two ways. First, if the driver has a blood alcohol level of .08 or above, that constitutes a DUI. Second, if it can be shown that a driver’s normal faculties are impaired by drugs or alcohol, then the driver can be convicted of a DUI (you can read a summary of the law here). If while driving under the influence a driver gets in an accident and injures an innocent victim, a court may hold that the driver is negligent as a matter of law, and thereby help a victim of the accident recover more easily.

Hopefully no one is injured while traveling from Panama City Beach, or other locations, to Panama City to take advantage of the later closing times for bars. But if you or someone else is injured in an accident due to drunk driving, there are laws that can help compensate you for your pain and suffering. As we have seen, Florida’s dram shop laws and DUI laws act as a deterrent and punishment when people act irresponsibly.

Attorneys Work to Apply Florida Law

Anyone injured in an accident needs an attorney to help them enforce Florida’s laws. Choosing the right attorney is very important. The right attorney is one who has spent a career working to ensure that those who act irresponsibly are made to pay. The Pittman Firm has done just that. If you have been injured due to someone who made the irresponsible choice to drive drunk, contact the Pittman Firm and let us help you.

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