Brandon & Tampa Personal Injury Attorneys
It's Like Having a Lawyer in the Family
Follow Us Facebook Twitter Linked In

Call For a FREE Consultation Handset 813-438-5960 Serving Brandon, Tampa and all of Florida

Alcohol-Related Car Crashes In Orlando

DramShop

It seems like light-years ago now, but back in the 1970s and 1980s, DUI laws were rather weak and sporadically enforced, and in fact, it wasn’t uncommon for police officers to release intoxicated motorists if they promised to drive straight home. Although we now live in a world of strict laws, ignition interlock devices, and roadside checkpoints, alcohol is still a factor in about a third of the fatal car accidents in Florida. How do victims prove liability in these cases, and who is responsible for damages?

First Party Liability

To convict defendants of DUI, prosecutors must prove intoxication beyond any reasonable doubt, which essentially means that the evidence must be so overwhelming that there is no other possible interpretation other than guilt. But to prove liability in civil court, plaintiffs must only prove impairment by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), and this difference is very, very significant.

In criminal cases, prosecutors often use evidence of consumption to establish that officers had a reasonable basis to administer field sobriety tests or ask the defendants to provide chemical breath or blood samples. This evidence includes:

  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Erratic driving,
  • Unsteady balance,
  • Odor of alcohol, and
  • Slurred speech.

While this evidence basically just lays a foundation in criminal court, it is evidence of impairment in civil court, since impairment usually begins at the first drink.

Many times, the evidence goes well beyond a suggestion of impairment. If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was charged with DUI, the negligence per se (negligence “as such”) rule usually kicks in, and the judge will declare the tortfeasor to be liable as a matter of law. Essentially, if the tortfeasor violated a safety statute, like DUI, and that violation caused the car accident, the tortfeasor is automatically liable for damages.

For victims that suffer serious injuries, these damages include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Third Party Liability

Many people argue that dram shop laws and other third party liability theories diminish personal responsibility in car crashes and other negligence cases, which is why a number of states have done away with these laws in recent years. However, these laws serve a very important purpose, which is to hold commercial alcohol providers accountable for the car accidents that they indirectly cause.

So, Florida’s dram shop law basically is a middle ground between the individual-responsibility group and the societal-interests group. Third-party alcohol providers are liable for the victim’s damages if:

  • Under 21: It is illegal to sell alcohol to minors, and this illegal sale forms the basis for third party tort liability.
  • Over 21: If the tortfeasor was over 21, the victim must prove that the provider knew the tortfeasor was “habitually addicted” to alcohol.

Florida is a pure several liability state, so in most cases, the first party and third party tortfeasor are responsible for their proportional share of the damages.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Impaired drivers face civil and criminal liability. For a free consultation with an aggressive personal injury attorney, contact Reed & Reed. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.125.html

sduhsd.net/documents/Parents%20and%20Students/School%20Safety/Alcohol%20Impairment%20.pdf

cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law
Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law, is located in Brandon, FL and serves clients in
and around Brandon, Tampa, Apollo Beach, Sydney, Gibsonton, Balm, Valrico, Wimauma, Sun City Center, Lithia, Ruskin, Durant, and Hillsborough County.

Our Locations

Brandon

101 East Lumsden Road
Brandon, FL 33511
Tel: 813-438-5960
Fax: 813-438-5995

St. Petersburg

1700 66th Street North, Ste. 104-1008
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Tel: 727-362-7520
Fax: 727-362-7521

Lakeland

248 N Kentucky Avenue #72
Lakeland, FL 33801
Tel: 863-274-7715
Fax: 863-274-7716

Tampa

401 E Jackson Street, Ste. 2340
Tampa, FL 33602
Tel: 813-440-6678
Fax: 813-440-6682

Clearwater

13575 58th Street N, Ste. 200
Clearwater, FL 33760
Tel: 727-767-9914
Fax: 727-767-9915

Memberships

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from www.NeedReed.com

MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2014 - 2017 Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab