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Massachusetts Aims to Stop Bars from Enabling Drunk Drivers

Drinking a bar is perfectly legal, so long as the person is 21 or older. However, it violates the law to drink to the point of intoxication and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Not only is it illegal, it could result in a serious or even fatal drunk driving accident.

beersWhile the police and lawmakers have been trying to curb drunk drivers, state officials are now turning their focus to bars, as more than 50 percent of all drunk driving arrests and accidents, start with a person being served alcohol at a bar, according to a recent news article from 22 WWLP News.

It is the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission that is identifying high-risk bars based upon incident reporting and having their inspectors and law enforcement personnel at these bars to keep the excessive serving of alcohol to potential drunk drunk drivers in check.

However, as our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers can explain, it is not only that these bars can face enforcement action from the alcoholic beverage commission, they can also find them defendants in a person injury lawsuit.  One of the ways that a bar can be sued is under what is known as a dram shop litigation.  If you are unfamiliar with term “dram,” as most people are, it is an old term, still used in parts of Europe for a shot of alcohol, usually Scotch.  A dram shop is an establishment that sells alcohol by the drink, such as a bar.

If the bar serves someone to the point of intoxication, and knows or has reason to believe that the customer will be getting behind the wheel of a car, they may be liable to the plaintiffs for any injuries under the Massachusetts dram shop laws.  If the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission finds that a violation has occurred and cites the bar owner with a fine or even closes the establishment, this can sometimes be used as evidence in your personal injury case.  However, this is not true in every case, so you should always speak with an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer about the facts surrounding your particular accident.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that no matter how careful a bartender or sever may be, there will still be drunk driving accidents.  For this reason, they are not demanding perfection.  As discussed in the article, they understand that it can happen once every 10 years, but when it is happening many times a year at the same bar, there is clearly a problem.

It is also important to note that even if a bar serves someone to the point of intoxication, or “into the red” as they often say in the service industry, that does not mean that the drunk driver isn’t also responsible for that accident.  In these cases, you may be able to sue the restaurant owner and the drunk driver.  The reason you would want to include the restaurant owner in the lawsuit is because in addition to their responsibility, they likely have more insurance than the driver to help you obtain a full and appropriate financial compensation.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Dram Shop Laws and Social Host Liability for Alcohol-Related Accidents in D.C., November 22, 2016, By Alessandra Martinez, 22 WWLP News

More Blog Entries:

Report: Boston Named as Having Worst Drivers in US – Many Drunk Driving Accidents, July 21, 2016, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog