Waging the Battle against Drunk Driving: Issues, Countermeasures, and Effectiveness

By Gerald D. Robin | Go to book overview

12
Third Party Liability for
Alcohol-Related Accidents

COMMERCIAL SERVERS

Those victimized by drunk drivers are filing a record number of suits against commercial servers of alcohol--bartenders, restaurant and tavern owners, table servers--and are being awarded substantial damages against these third parties for selling drinks to customers who kill or injure someone in a DWI accident after leaving their establishments. The legal grounds on which third-party liability 1 has been established are existing state laws that apply specifically to commercial servers of alcoholic beverages (dram shop acts) and the doctrine of negligence.


Dram Shop Acts

At common law, tavern owners and bartenders were immune from liability for the injuries caused by intoxicated patrons, because the consumption of alcohol and not the serving of it was considered the proximate cause of the injuries. 2 At that time, it was an unquestioned axiom that innkeepers were not their patrons' keepers. Starting in the mid-1850s under the impetus of the Prohibition movement, some states rejected the common law nonliability rule by enacting dram shop (civil damages) acts that expressly imposed liability on the

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Waging the Battle against Drunk Driving: Issues, Countermeasures, and Effectiveness
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - The Drunk Driving Problem 1
  • 2 - Coming to Grips with Drunk Driving 7
  • 3 - The Police Response to Drunk Drivers 21
  • 4 - Sobriety Checkpoints 29
  • 5 - Preliminary Breath Tests 43
  • 6 - Administrative License Suspension 49
  • 7 - Prosecuting Drunk Drivers 57
  • 8 - Defending Drunk Drivers 67
  • 9 - Mandatory Sentences for Drunk Drivers 73
  • 10 - Impact of Mandatory Sentences on the Criminal Justice System 87
  • 11 - Non-Cruel and Unusual Punishment 93
  • 12 - Third Party Liability for Alcohol-Related Accidents 99
  • 13 - Deterring Drunk Driving 109
  • Notes 119
  • Selected Bibliography 135
  • Index 139
  • About the Author 145
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