The upcoming New Year’s Eve holiday probably means another “no refusal” weekend for DUI suspects. What impact does the source of intoxication have on car crashes in South Central Texas?
Last year, 26 Austin drivers were arrested on suspicion of DUI on New Year’s Eve. During the no-refusal initiatives, drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test are transported to a hospital where authorities take a blood test. Such a procedure is quite cumbersome – mostly because the Fourth Amendment requires officers to obtain a search warrant before administering a blood test – which explains why the no-refusal weekends are mostly held on New Year’s Eve, Labor Day Weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, and other holidays traditionally associated with drinking and driving.
Drivers have the right to refuse a BAC test unless the officer has a valid warrant.
Third Party Liability
When an alcohol-impaired driver is involved in a vehicle crash, one of the most important questions to ask is “where did the driver come from?” If the person was bar-hopping or driving home from a bar, dram shop liability is a legitimate possibility. Bear in mind the that driver does not have to be legally intoxicated to be found negligent in civil court.
Texas’ version of the dram shop law is found in Chapter 2 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code. To establish the liability of a bar, restaurant, hotel, or other similar alcohol provider, the plaintiff must show:
- Illegal Sale: A commercial establishment cannot serve alcohol to a minor or an “obviously” intoxicated person. This second part may be established by witnesses who testify that the defendant had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, unsteady balance, and other signs of intoxication. The law also requires that the person posed a danger to the safety of others; getting behind the wheel of a vehicle typically satisfies this element; and
- Proximate Cause: The liquor consumed at the bar or restaurant need not be the sole cause of a subsequent crash, but it must be one of the major factors involved.
Damages in a car crash case typically include compensation for both economic and non-economic losses; Texas law apportions the damages between multiple defendants based on the relative percentage of fault.
The careless driver may not be the only negligent party in a tort case. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New Braunfels, contact us. We do not charge upfront legal fees in a personal injury case.