September 10, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- According to a recent report by researchers from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Alcohol Policy Consultations, many states have been easing their commercial host liability laws in recent years by adding restrictions that protect certain businesses from civil liability.
Basically, commercial host liability laws - which are more commonly known as Dram Shop laws - are used to hold bars, taverns and restaurants liable when they over-serve visibly intoxicated or underage patrons who then get behind the wheel and injure others in drunk driving accidents.
According to the report, the number of states with unrestricted Dram Shop laws dropped from 25 to 21 from 1989 to 2011. Furthermore, during the same period, the number of states that created additional restrictions to their Dram Shop laws in order to protect businesses increased from 11 to 16.
Thankfully for the victims of drunk driving accidents, the Empire State is not among those states that amending their Dram Shop laws in recent years. In fact, most of New York's Dram Shop laws
have not been altered since the 1980s.
Dram Shop liability in New York
Under New York law, bars and taverns are expressly prohibited from selling or giving any alcoholic beverages to:
- Any bar patron that is visibly intoxicated.
- Any bar patron that is known to be a "habitual drunkard."
- Any bar patron that is under 21-years-old.
If they do provide alcohol to anyone in these groups, they risk liability. For example, New York's General Obligations law clearly states that anyone injured by an intoxicated person shall have a viable cause of action against the person who unlawfully sold the alcohol to the intoxicated person in the first place. In most instances, this requires the victim to prove that the bar continued to serve a patron even after he or she was visibly intoxicated, or that the bar served a habitual drunkard.
Alternatively, when a bar serves alcohol to a patron under the age of 21 and that patron subsequently injures another, the burden of proof is considerably lower for the victim. For instance, there is no requirement under New York law that the underage patron be visibility intoxicated or a drunkard before liability may attach to the bar - a victim merely needs to show that the patron was served alcohol underage and that his or her "intoxication or impairment of ability" was attributed to being served alcohol.
Interestingly, contrary to several other states, some lawmakers are attempting to make New York's Dram Shop laws even tougher. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the New York legislature that seeks to add the makers of fake IDs to the list of those liable for drunk driving accidents.
Specifically, the bill - otherwise known as SB 2334
- will, if passed, make those who knowingly manufacture and sell fake IDs to persons under the age of 21 liable if the under-aged persons use the IDs to procure alcohol and subsequently injures a third-party while impaired.
It remains to be seen if this proposed bill will actually become law, but it does illustrate how New York in bucking the national trend when it comes to reducing Dram Shop liability. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver who was over-served alcohol at a bar or tavern, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced drunk driving accident attorney. A skilled attorney can review the facts of your case and help ensure your rights are protected.
Article provided by Hacker Murphy LLP
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