More than 50 years of fighting for the rights of the injured in Southwest Florida have taught us one sobering lesson above all others: Irresponsibility with alcohol destroys lives.
Start your 2022 resolutions early this year by resolving to be responsible with alcohol this holiday season. If you think that means don’t drink and drive, you are absolutely correct. If you think your responsibility ends there, you are sadly mistaken.
Irresponsibility and alcohol are a deadly cocktail that puts our attorneys in a room with a family devastated by tragedy every holiday season. Please do your part this year. Our personal injury attorneys in Fort Myers and Cape Coral would like nothing better than to not get those calls this holiday season.
Drunk Driving Criminal and Civil Liability
If you cause a motor vehicle collision while intoxicated, our injury lawyers in Fort Myers will do everything in our power to hold you accountable. The law will find you strictly liable in both civil and criminal court.
Driving while intoxicated is a crime, per Florida Statute 316.193 . If it results in serious injury, it’s a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If it results in a death, it’s a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years behind bars.
Additionally, you will be found responsible in civil court even if the victim is partially responsible for the collision. At a minimum, jail time and financial ruin will be the goal when it comes to holding you responsible.
Party Host and Vehicle Owner Liability
DUI is a form of negligence. Establishing legal liability generally requires the plaintiff (or injured party) to show:
- The driver had a duty to the injured party to practice caution;
- The duty was breached;
- As a proximate result of that breach, the plaintiff was injured.
But it’s not just drivers who are held responsible.
Florida dram shop laws also hold bars and homeowners accountable for serving alcohol to underage persons or those known to be addicted to alcohol. Florida Statute 768.125 allows those injured by drunk drivers to take action against bartenders, liquor store owners, and parents who host parties with alcohol for teens.
This is a primary reason why businesses that elect to serve alcohol at holiday parties have increasingly turned to professional bartenders to provide alcohol service.
Additionally, Florida law recognizes the principle of dangerous instrumentality. Most states do not recognize motor vehicles as an inherently dangerous tool. Florida, however, has done so since the 1920 Florida Supreme Court decision in Southern Cotton Oil Co. v. Anderson.
This means if you loan your vehicle to someone who causes a serious or fatal accident while under the influence, you could be held legally responsible.
The bare minimum you can do this holiday season is to resolve not to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. However, to reduce your risk of being held responsible for a tragedy, you must also be a responsible party host, a responsible parent, and a responsible vehicle owner.
Our drunk driving injury lawyers know taking this holistic approach to the deadly mix of alcohol and motor vehicles will go a long way toward preventing another deadly holiday tragedy.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.