Texas Over-Serving Laws – DWI Crash Laws
Alan Jackson once famously sang “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and for most people working long weeks, five o’clock really can’t come soon enough. Whether we’re going to our local hole-in-the-wall for some beers or downing shots at our favorite nightclub, most of us spend our weekends relaxing away by drinking some alcohol.
Unfortunately, some of us may get a little carried away and before you know it, you’re dangerously behind the wheel of a vehicle, driving intoxicated. If you were to hypothetically be involved in a car accident with someone else, the following is likely to occur:
- If there were any injuries to yourself or the person you hit, either of you would likely be rushed to the hospital for immediate care.
- You would be arrested and charged for DWI.
- The person you hit would file a personal injury claim against your insurance company to pay for their hospital bills.
- Depending on the circumstances, you may see jail time or be placed on probation as well as pay severe fines for your crime.
- You would be stuck paying for your own hospital bills.
Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Not so much. If you were involved in a DWI crash, there are actually some special circumstances in Texas law where some of these results may look entirely different.
In Texas, these laws are called “Dram Shop” laws.
What Are Texas Dram Shop Laws?
Dram shop laws in Texas are laws that exist to protect consumers from restaurants and bars that criminally over-serve their guests to the point of intoxication, making them a danger to themselves and those who share the road with them.
The following section in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code allows anyone to bring a “cause of action” (a reason to sue) for being injured due to a bar or restaurant over-serving guests who are later involved in a DWI car accident:
(b) Providing, selling, or serving an alcoholic beverage may be made the basis of a statutory cause of action under this chapter and may be made the basis of a revocation proceeding under Section 6.01(b) of this code upon proof that:
(1) at the time the provision occurred it was apparent to the provider that the individual being sold, served, or provided with an alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others; and
(2) the intoxication of the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.
Now that we’re somewhat familiar with Texas dram shop laws, let’s apply these laws to real-world scenarios.
What Happens If Someone Gets Drunk At A Bar And Crashes Into Me?
In this scenario, you would absolutely have a personal injury claim against the bar AS WELL AS the person who crashed into you. Texas dram shop laws implicitly assign a responsibility to bars and restaurants to deny alcohol service to guests who are “clearly intoxicated” when they are a “clear danger to” themselves and other people.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission provides certification for ALL servers and bartenders at restaurants after they pass an examination. This certification includes noticing signs of clear intoxication. In fact, bartenders and servers may actually be held CRIMINALLY liable for any accidents that occur from overserving a guest.
What Happens If A Bar Served Me So Much Alcohol That I Crashed Into Someone Else?
Depending on the circumstances, if the bar or restaurant served you to the point to where you became intoxicated and you crashed into someone else, then you could potentially have a cause of action against the bar or restaurant for any injuries you sustained.
Reading the dram shop statute, it does not directly say that ONLY victims of DWI crashes can sue restaurants and bars for overserving. It simply states that a cause of action may be made against the bar or restaurant for overserving someone who caused damages period.
So, yes, you could potentially file a personal injury lawsuit against a bar if you were in an accident due to being intoxicated from a bar serving you alcohol to the point where you were a clear danger to yourself.
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