DRAM SHOP LAW SPECTRUM: HOW MARYLAND MEASURES UP
As the weekends approach, many people will consider whether to go out, stay in, imbibe alcohol, or stay sober. For countless people, it means consuming more than the legal limit, .08, in alcoholic beverages. The question of taking public transportation, a taxi, or getting a ride from a friend may be considered also but oftentimes it can be overlooked. This can mean poor decisions and drunk driving, leading to the possibility of a DUI/DWI charge. But, who exactly is liable if you are served alcohol at a bar/restaurant, become intoxicated, decide to drive home and then get in an accident and injure someone?
In Maryland, if you are injured, you cannot sue the establishment that served the intoxicated person too much alcohol. Even if the establishment (collectively, the bartender, bouncer, those who should have control over the situation) knew how drunk the patron was, it does not matter. Unlike 30 other states, there is no dram shop law in Maryland that holds the seller accountable.
Recently, Noah Leotta, a Maryland State trooper, was killed by an alleged intoxicated driver, Luis Reluzco. It turns out that Reluzco had been served at a local Hooters. In Warr v. JMGM Group, LLC, 433 Md. 170 (2013), the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that taverns, bars or others who serve alcohol are not liable for serving visibly intoxicated patrons who cause automobile accidents after getting in a car and driving drunk.
In contrast, New Mexico is just the opposite, as reiterated in early December by their state Supreme Court. In New Mexico, a licensee is liable only for serving an obviously intoxicated person. The Supreme Court also emphasized a new test for causation, asking what a sober driver would have done in the same situation.
Implications that Come with the DUI/DWI in Maryland
A DUI/DWI charge is not a cakewalk. For instance, if you hit someone and/or kill them, there could be criminal charges as well as monetary damages that you may be liable for.
Under Maryland Code, Transportation Article § 21-902, “a person may not drive or attempt to drive any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.” Also, Maryland Criminal Law § 2-209 states that “a person may not cause the death of another as a result of the person’s driving, operating, or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a grossly negligent manner.”
Because Maryland is not one of the states that participate in the dram shop laws, personal injury damages will be directed solely against the intoxicated driver, rather than any establishments.
Let Our Attorneys Help You
If you have been charged with DUI/DWI, an experienced attorney at Alpert Schreyer Poe will be able to explain the implications and how to proceed with your case. Contact us today for assistance with your case.