Florida’s Dram Shop Laws: The Drunk Driving Defendant’s History with Alcohol Matters

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Driving drunk only has to happen once to cause catastrophic injuries to you or someone else.  Every drinking binge causes destruction on its own terms, independently of other times the person has drunk to excess.  News stories abound about college freshman being hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, or even dying from it, when they had only ever had a few sips of alcohol before the night of the fateful drinking binge. 

Florida’s dram shop laws only allow a lawsuit against a bar or other place that sells alcohol if the place sells alcohol to someone underage or who has a known drinking problem and that person causes an accident while intoxicated. According to Florida law, if a first-time drinker gets drunk on his 21st birthday and crashes into your car, the bar where he bought the alcohol might not be held liable, even if the bartender kept serving him alcohol after he was visibly drunk. 

Florida’s laws about alcohol vendor liability in alcohol-related car accidents are more nuanced than in many other states and each case is different. If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit related to a drunk driving accident, contact a Pensacola car accident injury lawyer.

What Florida Law Says About Bars and Liability for Drunk Driving

Florida Statute 768.125 of 2019 says that an establishment that sells alcohol cannot be held liable for accidents caused by people who got drunk there unless the drinker was under 21 years old or unless the drinker had a known addiction to alcohol or history of alcohol abuse.  Under this law, a single drinking binge does not constitute alcohol abuse. If the bartender continued serving alcohol to the patron after the patron was noticeably drunk, you cannot hold the bar liable unless you can prove that the patron had had a drinking problem and the bar knew he did and continued to serve him.

How Do You Prove That the Driver Is an Alcoholic?

You can sue a bar if a person’s alcohol addiction was so bad that they drove drunk and injured you, but how do you prove that they were addicted?  It’s easier to prove if the drunk driver was someone you know personally and have seen their problem drinking firsthand and can show that the bar knew the person had a drinking problem.  If the drunk driver isn’t someone you know, you might have to get information from other people who have witnessed the problems caused by their drinking. For example, former employers and neighbors might know more about how much and how often the person drinks or drives drunk, even if the person denies being an alcoholic.

Contact the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm About Car Accident Cases

If the person who drove drunk and caused your accident does not have enough money to cover your medical bills and lost income, you might have a case against the bar where they bought the alcohol.  Contact Stevenson Klotz in Pensacola, Florida to discuss your case and to see whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

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