Drunk driving is one of the most irresponsible decisions and actions anyone can take. Selling and making alcohol available to a minor is not very far from it.
Just a few weeks ago, on December 18, 2018, a young mother was killed after a drunk 19-year-old crashed into her vehicle in the 1500 block of College Avenue, east of the Gulf Freeway, in South Houston.
Officials said the 23-year-old mother was driving an SUV with her 1-year-old son and mother on board when the drunk driver, who was in a pickup truck, crossed three lanes and slammed into her head-on.
The young woman died at the scene of the accident. Her 48-year-old mother and son were transported to a local hospital in serious condition but with non-life threatening injuries. They are both now at home recovering.
Authorities say Hernandez will be charged with intoxication manslaughter. A fake Texas identification card and bar receipt were found inside his pickup truck.
An investigation into whether the bar had overserved Hernandez resulted in five Frontera Events Venue bar employees, including the bar manager, being arrested and charged for serving alcohol to a minor before causing a deadly crash.
The bar had cameras which were able to capture the drunk driver consuming 12 drinks, including 3 shots of the tequila, before taking off in his truck.
Three of the five arrested were seen taking drinking tequila shots with the underage drunk driver. Court documents show that the bar did not have a liquor license.
Three employees, including the bar manager, faced a judge on December 26, 2018.
Discovering Who’s At Fault in a Drunk Driving Accident
If an intoxicated driver causes an accident and injures or kills someone in the process, this driver can, and will, be held liable for the accident due to their negligence and irresponsibility.
However, in Texas and other states, the law can go further and be used to identify others at fault for the intoxication of the driver. There are two laws in Texas which can hold hosts and businesses accountable for drunk driving accidents: the “Dram Shop Law” and “Social Host Law.”
- The Dram Shop Law: For a business to be liable under the dram shop law, it must be proven that the business served alcoholic beverages to an evidently intoxicated customer. Meaning, they overserved their customer.
A particular feature of this law in Texas, which is not common in other states with the dram shop law, is that the defendant can seek to assign responsibility to a third-party. Which means the defendant in a dram shop law case can be only partially responsible for the incident, placing fault on the drunk driver or another party.
Dram shop claims can be filed either by the intoxicated party or the party injured by the intoxicated person; the former has close to no success in Texas. When the intoxicated party makes a dram shop claim, it’s seen as asking the court to penalize an alcohol-serving establishment for their conscious decision to consume their product.
However, the injured party can definitely place liability on the bar under the notion that the bar or establishment overserved the intoxicated party and allowed them to drive away. Violation of the dram shop law can include criminal penalties including a $500 fine and jail sentence up to a year.
Victims injured in a drunk driving accident should consult with an expert attorney, like the Houston car accident attorneys at Lapeze & Johns, to see how the dram shop law could affect their case.
- The Social Host Law: Passed in 2005, the social host law makes it illegal to serve alcoholic beverages to a minor if that minor later causes injuries or death due to their intoxication. Any adult over 21 who is not the parent or legal guardian of the minor can be held accountable for the minor’s detrimental actions and can be considered the “host.”
It also makes party hosts liable for damages and injuries when a host (not the underage drinker’s parent) made alcoholic beverages available to a known minor who then caused injury or damage. Even if the host is not actively serving alcohol to the minor, but allows the minor to consume it on their property, they can be held liable.
If a host is convicted of breaking this law, they face a Class A misdemeanor, punishable with a fine up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
Have you or someone you love been involved in a drunk driving accident? The Houston car accident attorneys at Lapeze & Johns are ready to fight for you.
The Houston car accident attorneys of Lapeze & Johns have earned over $385 million in damages for our clients and have a 98 percent success rate for all our cases.
Do NOT hesitate to contact us at (713) 739-1010 to schedule your free legal consultation.