Tennessee DUI accidents spur debate on who is responsible

Several recent tragic car accidents have revived the debate among bar owners, lawmakers, and safety advocates about how to prevent drunken driving crashes. Current law holds bar owners in Tennessee liable in limited circumstances for the consequences of the drinks they serve. 21 other states have hold bar owners liable in all circumstances, and 14 states do not hold bars responsible.

"If you over-serve somebody and they go out and hurt somebody, you've got a responsibility there," said a local advocate. "It's just a good public policy not to be over-serving people alcohol. Shouldn't society try to prevent that?"

However, bar owners say that insurance policies to cover this type of liability are too expensive and make it hard for them to find an insurance company that will sell them a policy. They say that even when they exercise a lot of care and caution in serving guests, accidents still happen. Drivers should be the only ones held responsible for their choice to drink and drive.

Currently, Tennessee businesses who sell alcohol are only liable for sales to minors and people who are visibly intoxicated who cause injury or death. Advocates of these types of laws say that stopping the sale of alcohol before the person gets behind the wheel is one way that we can prevent death and injury from drunk driving.

If you or someone you know was injured by a drunk driver, or if you have lost a loved one in an accident cause by a drunk driver, contact an attorney to find out more about your rights to compensation. Every case is different, and it's important to talk with someone who can carefully evaluate your individual claim.

Source: The Tennessean, "DUI deaths spur questions about bars' liability," Brandon Gee, Feb. 25, 2012

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