Is Local Bar Responsible for Fatal Drunk Driving Crash?
Recently, I blogged about a wrong-way drunk driving accident on Ga. 400 that killed two people. Now, the woman who was riding in the car with the drunk driver has made statements to the media that the bar that served them alcohol should be held responsible for the accident. This raises questions about the actions of drinking establishments in drunk driving collisions.
Beyonica Watts rode in a car with Frampere Ingle on August 15 after both had been out drinking at a bar. Ingle drove southbound in the northbound lanes of Ga. 400, and crashed head-on into Eric Hanks near the Lenox Road exit. Both Ingle and Hanks were killed in the crash. Now, Watts is asserting that the bar where she and Ingle were drinking knew the women were drunk and should have taken greater care to ensure they got home safely.
In Georgia, we have Dram Shop Laws, which means that it is illegal for drinking establishments to over serve patrons who will clearly be driving home within a reasonable amount of time. Bars and restaurants can be held responsible when someone who is expected to be driving home is served too much alcohol.
The details in these kinds of cases are hardly ever clear. There are many questions that need to be addressed, such as whether or not the patron was already intoxicated before he or she entered the establishment, and whether or not a server should have been able to identify the patron as drunk. It can be extremely difficult to answer these questions.
In the case of Watts and Ingle, according to witness reports and various news sources, the unnamed bar where the women were drinking was aware that they were too drunk to drive home on their own. In fact, security at the bar actually took Ingle’s keys away from her. They gave the keys to another friend, who got into another vehicle shortly after leaving the bar and turned the keys back over to Ingle.
So far, it does not appear that any of the families of the deceased parties have filed suit against the drinking establishment. If it’s true that security took away Ingle’s keys, it could prove that the establishment knew they were too intoxicated to drive safely.
Conversely, it could also be argued that giving her keys to a friend simply wasn’t enough, and the bar should have called a cab or one of the services that will drive drunk patrons home from the bars in an attempt to keep drunk drivers off of the road.