We have all heard the story before. A young driver, out celebrating a birthday, gets behind the wheel of a 3,000 pound missile we call our cars, SUV’s, trucks, or whatever we drive, and goes fast. The end is usually tragic. It devastates lives, and people will never be the same again. One of the unanswered questions in this car accident, is whether, the driver was intoxicated. He was only celebrating his 19th birthday, 2 years younger than the legal drinking age in Florida. So hopefully he was drinking at the time of the accident, or shortly before it happened.
If he was of legal drinking age, unfortunately, the bar or establishment that served him alcohol would have gotten away with devastating the lives of three families, “Scott Free.” If we keep going down our current path in Florida of running the State like a business and allow businesses to change the laws for the benefit of businesses we will begin to see more and more examples of businesses “getting away” from being held responsible for their improper actions. The rights of the citizens are being slowly eroded in Florida.
The family of those who were injured or killed, in this horrible car accident in Sarasota, Florida on March 13, 2011. Although the families of A. Monroe, and K. Janis may have a claim against Mr. Leonard for his actions, they may also have other claims. There is no proof yet that Mr. Leonard was intoxicated at the time of the crash, but if it is established, they may bring an action against the establishment which served alcohol (if any) to Mr. Leonard, because of his age, for their loss. Also, the families of Mr. Leonard and Miss Leonard, who were killed may also have a claim against the same place. Had he been 21 years of age, they would have no recourse.
Florida does not have a Dram Shop Law. Although many Floridians believe and assume Florida does have these laws, it does not. Florida limits liability to 2 scenarios: First, it only provides liability if the alcohol was served to a minor; and Second if the alcohol was served to a “known habitual offender.”
The first scenario is easy. If if the person who was served alcohol is a minor the server of the alcohol, whether a person or establishment, may be held responsible for the injuries sustained as a result of an accident, injury or tragic event.
The second is more difficult. The server, or establishment, which gives the alcohol to an adult, and the adult injures himself or others, will not face liability unless it can be shown that they actually knew the person receiving the alcoholic beverage was addicted to alcohol. While other states and jurisdictions create liability for serving alcohol to a person who is clearly intoxicated, that is NOT the case in Florida.
Florida Statute, Section, 768.125, states: “Aperson who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.”
The answer is simple, DO NOT DRINK and DRIVE!