Sports bars can be a great place to watch a football game: huge televisions, multiple games on at one time, wings, pizza and beer. In the fall, it is easy to see how an entire Saturday or Sunday afternoon can be spent at the bar watching college or professional football. Of course, if you have spent the day drinking, you have no business driving yourself home. Unfortunately, people do so, and innocent people become victims of drunk drivers and the bars that over-serve them.
In our last blog post, we discussed the criminal penalties for first time DUI, which is a misdemeanor. But if a drunk driver harms someone, in many circumstances, the conduct can rise to a felony. If a drunk driver is found guilty of vehicular assault (serious injury to another person by a DUI driver), then the offender has committed a Class D Felony which can result in license revocation from 1 to 5 years (a restricted license is not available), jail time of 2 to 12 years, a $5,000.00 fine and other costs such as attorney fees, bail, etc. Vehicular Homicide (a fatal crash caused by a DUI with a .08 BAC or more) is a Class B felony and is punishable by 8 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.00. Aggravated Vehicular Assault While Driving Intoxicated is a Class A Felony (requires proof of prior DUI offenses) and is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.00.
In addition to criminal penalties for the drunk driver, the bar or restaurant faces misdemeanor charges if it serves alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated. The bar or restaurant that serves who over-served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who gives into a car and hurts others may be responsible for any harm caused by the drunk driver such as the victim’s medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. This area of the law is called dram shop or liquor liability law. To learn more about the legal liability of bars and restaurants , follow the link.
By discussing the liability of the restaurant or bar, we in no way excuse the conduct of the drunk driver – he or she should know better than to drink to excess and drive. But bars and restaurants also owe a responsibility to the public not to serve visibly intoxicated people and responsibility to train their personnel to identify those who have had too much too drink and to cut off the flow of alcohol to such persons. The failure to do so should give rise to financial consequences for the harm caused.
We offer free consultation to those injured by drunk drivers or the bars and restaurants that over-served them. If we determine that your case has merit, we accept representation on a contingent fee basis, which means we are paid only if we are able to secure a financial recovery for you. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a drunk driver and would like to discuss your case with one of our award-winning lawyers, please contact us online or call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.