Dram Shop Law Aims to Hold Bars Responsible to Victims of Drunk Drivers
Texas Representative Chris Turner has refiled his dram shop bill that was previously defeated in the 2013 legislative session. The law would require bars and restaurants that make more than 50 percent of revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages to carry liability insurance. Most drinking establishments do have liability insurance policies, but a sizeable number shirk their responsibility to the potential victims of drunk drivers.
Abdallah Khader Tragedy Sparked the Law
Rep. Turner was inspired to sponsor the legislation after a drunk driver injured a 2 year-old boy in Arlington who was riding in the back of his mother’s car. Abdallah Khader suffered severe brain damage in the 2009 accident. He died a month ago after living for the past six years in a near vegetative state.
The crash occurred at the intersection of South Cooper Street and Oak Village Boulevard on a Friday evening in February 2009. Loubna Khader was stopped at a red light when Stewart Richardson’s Ford F-250 pickup truck rammed into her 2003 Honda Accord, pushing the vehicle into the intersection into the path of a 1998 Ford Mustang. Despite being properly restrained in his car seat, the little boy sustained catastrophic head injuries.
The driver who ran into Abdallah’s mom had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that was three times Texas’s legal limit. Richardson was arrested for drunk driving.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission found that Mr. B’s Sports Grill had continued to serve Mr. Richardson who was “obviously intoxicated,” and determined that “the over-service of alcoholic beverages was found to be a contributing factor in the near-fatal wreck.” Based on these findings, the TABC cancelled the bar’s liquor license.
The parents of the severely injured boy sued Mr. B’s Sports Grill, but the bar lacked enough liability insurance to settle its claim with the stricken family. The bill before the state legislature will rectify this injustice should a similar accident happen in the future.
Repeat DUI Offender Fatally Injured Boy
Mr. Richardson’s shocking criminal history includes seven previous DUI convictions in four different states. Even more shocking, all of the DUIs were misdemeanors, which thus limits his maximum jail sentence to 20 years in prison if he is convicted on his current DWI charge. He is still awaiting trial while the prosecution appeals a defense motion that affirmed the 20-year maximum sentence.
In a testament as to how deeply this young boy has touched lawmakers, the legislature passed the Abdallah Khader Act in 2011, making a the DWI offense a second degree felony if the drunk driving accident causes traumatic brain injury that puts the victim into a persistent vegetative state. Under this law, should another family suffer a similar horrific accident, the judge would have authority to sentence the drunk driver to life in prison.
Hold Businesses That Serve Alcohol Accountable for Drunk Driving Accidents
Bars, restaurants, and stores have a responsibility not to serve drunk patrons and customers. When a driver who is overserved causes a DUI wreck, you may have a cause of action against the establishment or store. For more information, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.