At blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) as low as .02%, there is a decline in visual functions (i.e. rapid tracking) and a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time (i.e. divided attention). As concentration levels move from 0.5 to 0.8, there are significant reductions in coordination, visual tracking, concentration, estimating speeds, and impaired perception. While people may not be aware of these specifics, the general effect of alcohol on drivers is widely known.
Unfortunately, studies demonstrate that drinking and driving continues to be a leading cause of auto accidents.
- National Statistics on Drunk Driving: In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Every day in the United States, 28 people die as a result of drunk driving. On average, one out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash during their lifetime. In 2012, 10,322 people died in driving crashes – one over 51 minutes. Every 90 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
- Missouri Statistics on Drunk Driving: In 2012 in Missouri, 280 people were killed from drunk driving crashes, which represents 34% of all traffic deaths in the state. In the same year, there were 3,268 alcohol-related crash injuries and there were 5,256 alcohol-related crashes. In 2012, in Missouri, there were 9,870 DUI arrests.
- Kansas Statistics on Drunk Driving: In 2012 in Kansas, 98 people were killed from drunk driving crashes, which represents 24% of all traffic deaths in the state. In the same year, there were 1,622 alcohol-related crash injuries and there were 2,603 alcohol-related crashes.
In some alcohol-related accidents, the intoxicated driver isn’t the only one at fault. Missouri’s Dram Shop Law, RSMo. §537.053 reads: “The sale of alcoholic beverage may be the proximate cause of personal injuries or death.” The sale of the alcohol must be by the drink and by a restaurant and/or bar or similar business and the law only extends to bars or restaurants that serve alcohol by the drink. Social hosts or stores that sell packaged liquor are excluded. The law was created to reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents by making the businesses who over serve intoxicated patrons accountable.
There are a couple of ways a bar and/or restaurant can be held responsible for the injury or death of a person in a drunk driving accident in Missouri: (1) the seller served alcohol to a person under the age of twenty-one who later caused an accident and injured their self or someone else, or (2) the seller knowingly served liquor to a “visibly intoxicated person” who then caused an accident and injured someone else. Proving the bar’s and/or restaurant’s liability in these cases can be difficult, however, because the legal standard to be met is that the seller/server knowingly served alcoholic beverages to a “visibly intoxicated person.” Accordingly, a proper investigation should be conducted as soon as possible, and critical information should be gathered before the evidence is lost and while witnesses can still be located.
If you were injured as a result of the over-service of alcohol to a restaurant patron or if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you should talk to our attorneys to investigate the possibility of a dram shop case and liquor liability claim.