Can a Bartender be Liable for a DWI?

Posted by Doug Murphy | Mar 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

Most of the time, we assume that someone who drinks at a bar or restaurant must drink responsibly. If they get arrested for drinking and driving, it is simply their poor choice, right? But someone who serves an individual later arrested for DWI or an alcohol-related charge can also face criminal charges. That's what happened to a Lake Worth bartender recently.

Serving Intoxicated Individuals in Texas

The bartender, who worked at Fuzzy's Taco Shop in Lake Worth, is accused of overserving a man convicted in a 2021 drunk driving crash. The driver ran a red light and crashed into an off-duty police detective and his family, killing the detective and critically injuring his wife and two children. At the time of his arrest, the driver's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit in Texas, and he had THC in his system.

A DWI that results in someone's death or serious injury can have severe consequences. Both intoxication assault, a DWI involving a serious bodily injury, and intoxication manslaughter, a DWI involving a death, are felony charges. But if someone served a clearly intoxicated person before the DWI occurred, they could also face charges.

"Sale or Delivery to Certain Persons"

In this case, the bartender who served the driver before his November 21, 2021, crash had an expired state alcohol server license at the time of the service. She now faces a charge for "sale to certain persons," a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. The bartender surrendered herself to police and was released after posting a $1,000 bond.

In Texas, the sale or delivery of alcohol to "certain persons" happens if someone "sells an alcoholic beverage to an habitual drunkard or an intoxicated or insane person" with "criminal negligence." Criminal negligence is more than ordinary negligence, involving circumstances where the server "ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk" that the bad result will occur. In the case of the bartender, the bad result was the DWI and subsequent death and serious injury of others on the roadway. The risk must be so serious that "the failure to perceive it" is a gross deviation from the standard of care an ordinary person would exercise.

You Need an Expert in Texas DWI Law

The consequences can be serious if you're facing an alcohol-related charge, such as overserving someone or a DWI. That's why you need a DWI and criminal defense law expert to protect your rights. Attorney Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in Texas who is Board Certified in both Criminal Defense Law and DWI Defense, making him an expert in both these specialty areas of the law. Doug also has extensive experience handling complex alcohol-related cases, making him well-suited to help you. U.S. News and World Report also recently named Doug to its "Best Lawyers in America" list for 2023 Houston DWI defense. Find out why the Houston press calls Doug "the drinking driver's best friend." Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm online or call them at 713-229-8333 to schedule your consultation.

About the Author

Doug Murphy

Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today

If you are facing DWI or other criminal charges in Texas, contact our office today to discuss your case, so we can begin working on your defense. Please provide only your personal email and cell phone number so that we can immediately and confidentially communicate with you.