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Do bars and restaurants have a responsibility in DUI cases?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | DUI

Drunk driving is a pressing issue across the United States. It is a danger to those behind the wheel and innocent bystanders who share the road. But while the responsibility to make sure these people are safe often falls on the drivers, some laws focus on addressing the responsibility of bars and restaurants in serving alcohol and its potential link to DUI incidents.

Understanding Dram Shop laws

The Dram Shop law expects bars and restaurants in Alaska to make sure they do not serve too much alcohol to customers. This responsibility is rooted in the need to prevent patrons from reaching dangerous levels of intoxication, as it directly contributes to the prevention of serious incidents. This simply means they must not serve someone who is already drunk. They must maintain vigilant oversight of each customer’s alcohol consumption.

Impact on DUI cases

When someone gets over-served at a bar or restaurant and is later in a DUI accident, the link between responsible alcohol service and DUI cases is clear. Here, not only the person driving under the influence is legally responsible, but the establishment that failed to prevent over-serving also shares accountability. This can result in legal consequences for both.

Penalties for DUI accidents involving over-serving can vary. However, they often include legal consequences for both the establishment and the impaired driver. The severity of these penalties depends on factors like:

  • The extent of over-serving
  • Prior DUI offenses
  • The outcome of the DUI accident

The establishment may face fines, suspension or revocation of its alcohol license. It may even end in civil lawsuits for damages.

Proving over-serving

Demonstrating that a bar or restaurant over-served a patron can be complex, but it’s not an impossible challenge. In such cases, evidence such as witness testimonies, security footage or credit card receipts can help build a case against the establishment in question.

Finding the balance

While the concept of Dram Shop laws may seem fair as it discourages excessive drinking, others may question whether it places an undue burden on these establishments, particularly when it can be challenging to prove over-serving. The fairness of such laws often hinges on striking a balance between individual responsibility and the duty of bars and restaurants to promote safe drinking environments.