How It Began
In the late 80s, a man named Larry Poole was the victim of a fatal drunk driving accident. The drunk driver hit Mr. Poole, but had no recollection of the event. Prior to the accident the driver had been drinking at an El Chico restaurant. It was later determined that the driver had a BAC that was more than two times the legal limit of 0.08% and was “black-out” drunk. The family of Mr. Poole sued the El Chico restaurant claiming that serving the driver to the point of black-out intoxication was an act of negligence. This lawsuit created the foundation for the Dram Shop Act to be created.
Dram Shop 101
In 1987 the Texas legislature passed the Texas Dram Shop Act. The name Dram Shop Act comes from the 18th Century English drinking establishments that would sell gin by the spoonful. These establishments were called drams. The Texas Dram Shop Act was created in response to the El Chico v. Poole lawsuit and helped to provide a more clear understanding of the bar and restaurant’s liability.
The Dram Shop Act states that a bar or restaurant can only be held liable if:
- The bar or restaurant provided at least the last drink
- The bar or restaurant provided the drink to the person who caused the accident
- The person who caused the accident must have already consumed enough alcohol so that any reasonable person would have been able to tell that he or she was intoxicated
While the Dram Shop Act provides clear guidelines, it is up to the attorney to prove the bar or restaurant should be held liable.
1. The bar or restaurant provided at least the last drink
The attorney is responsible for proving that the bar or restaurant provided the person that caused the accident with alcohol. While this may seem like a simple task, but it can become difficult if the person responsible was paying in cash or had other people buy their drinks.
2. The bar or restaurant provided the drink to the person who caused the accident
The attorney is responsible for proving that your damages were the result of the bartenders serving the person who caused your accident. This can be difficult if there were a few hours that passed between the last drink and the accident or if the person that caused the accident visited multiple bars or restaurants.
3. The person who caused the accident must have already consumed enough alcohol so that any reasonable person would have been able to tell that he or she was intoxicated
Obvious intoxication means that it was noticeable that the behavior of the person drinking could lead to danger to themselves or others OR the employees of the bar knew or should have known the amount of alcohol they served the person. This is different from visible intoxication where you can physically see how drunk a person was.
Take action today.
While the Dram Shop Act was created to help hold the restaurants and bars responsible for their actions, it can be difficult to successfully prove they are at fault. When searching for an attorney for a drunk driving case it is important to find one who is familiar with this type of case and has experience gathering the necessary evidence. At Powers Taylor we are proud to put our client’s needs first. Contact the experienced attorneys at Powers Taylor today for a free consultation. All calls are confidential.