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If I Drive While Intoxicated, Can Others Be Held Accountable Too?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Collin County criminal defense attorney DWI

Since before the time you were legally able to get behind the wheel, you have likely been warned about the dangers of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Not only do drunk drivers place themselves at risk of injury, but they also put other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in harm’s way. Intoxication levels are measured through one’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and in Texas, one’s BAC must be below 0.08 percent to be considered under the legal limit. But what happens to those who injure another party because they decided to get behind the wheel drunk? Is the blame solely on their decision to drink, or can other parties be held responsible as well?

Holiday Party Gone Wrong

Unfortunately, drunk driving incidents increase throughout the holiday season. This is often attributed to tipsy party guests making the decision to get behind the wheel rather than staying the night or calling a friend for a ride home. This instance hit close to home for a number of families this past Christmas Eve. Teenage brothers from Lewisville became victims to a drunk driver while walking home with friends on Dec. 24, 2020. Hayden, 18, and Grayson, 12, were struck by an out-of-control vehicle. Grayson made it out alive with serious injuries, but Hayden died at the scene. The driver was arrested on charges of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. Depending on the details of the drunk driver’s night, there may have been additional parties to blame.

Dram Shop Laws

Like many states, Texas can hold bars or retailers accountable for over-served customers who take to the roads intoxicated. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 2.01, a retailer or bar is liable if it provided, sold, or served alcohol to a customer who was clearly intoxicated at the time of the transaction, and that customer went on to cause property damage or injuries as a result of his or her intoxication. This is known as a dram shop law. In other words, if a bartender served a customer despite obvious signs of intoxication, the bar can be held accountable for this decision by any parties who were injured as a result of the customer’s drunkenness. There is, however, an exception for “social hosts.” 

Some states’ dram shop laws also include hosts of social gatherings, but Texans are exempt from this responsibility. Texas dram shop laws do not hold family or friends liable for over-serving guests in their homes, even if their level of intoxication causes an accident. Those found providing minors with alcohol are no longer protected by this legal exception. If an adult knowingly provides someone under the age of 18 with alcohol, and the minor causes an accident, the adult who served the teen can be held liable for the repercussions of the accident.

Contact a Tarrant County DWI Defense Attorney

If you are found driving while intoxicated, the penalties that follow can be severe. But what if there are others responsible for your level of intoxication? At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we defend those facing DWI charges and will use all of the details of your case to prove your innocence or secure a reduced sentence. Our attorneys have been serving Collin County residents for over 20 years and are prepared to use our two decades of experience to your benefit. If you are facing DWI charges, contact our Dallas criminal defense lawyers today at 214-303-9600 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/local/teen-pedestrian-killed-in-lewisville-driver-arrested-on-dui-charges/287-3ebd4ef9-e4e4-4712-8698-b69d8a85c74c

https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/dram-shop-liability-state-statutes.aspx#TX 

 

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