A DUI (driving under the influence) with injury charge is a serious offense that carries heavy penalties and the likelihood that both real and punitive damages will be paid to the injured party by the drunk driver. But simply dropping the blame for a drunk driving accident onto the lap of the intoxicated motorist is not considering the entirety of what led up to that event. In Alabama, dram shop laws can extend some of the liability to the people who served the motorist alcohol in the first place.
Alabama’s Dram Shop Law
In the state of Alabama, anyone who is visibly intoxicated must be cut off from alcohol served by others, such as vendors and social hosts. This means bartenders cannot sell drinks to overly intoxicated patrons, and friends at events and gatherings need to make a reasonable attempt to limit the intoxication of their guests. Dram shop laws are meant not only to encourage the health of the intoxicated individual but also that of those around them, specifically in terms of DUI-related car accidents.
If it can be shown that a vendor or social host kept serving alcohol to an intoxicated person, they could be held partially liable for any damage they cause to others while driving later. Dram shop lawsuits are usually secondary to car accident claims; there will be one lawsuit against the drunk driver and another against the vendor or social host, each seeking different amounts of damages based on determined liability.
How Can Dram Shop Laws Help with DUI Cases?
In functionality, Alabama’s dram shop laws are strictly for civil lawsuits and paying out damages to parties injured in drunk driving accidents. However, the fact that Alabama recognizes lapses in vendor and social host responsibility can work well for DUI defense cases. It could be argued that a drunk driver did not realize how intoxicated they were due to host encouragement to keep drinking; it may also be said that a host or vendor that gets someone drunk and allows them to drive has played a participating role in both the crime of drunk driving and any resulting crashes.
Completely dismissing a DUI charge based solely on dram shop law influence is unlikely. What is possible, though, is having charges or sentencing reduced. In some cases, this is all that a DUI defendant can hope for, so that possibility should not be overlooked. If you would like to know more about Alabama’s dram shop laws and DUI defense options, call 205.536.7770 to connect with Tidwell Law Group, LLC. Our Birmingham DUI attorney can provide you with insight and representation backed by 10+ years of legal experience – contact us at your first chance.