We all know that bad things can result from driving while intoxicated. If intoxicated, we know we should hand over the keys to someone else or use Uber or a cab. But if a DWI crash does happen, what happens if the driver was obviously intoxicated, and a bar or restaurant continued to serve them alcohol? In this situation, a bar, bartender, or restaurant that continues to serve someone who is intoxicated can face legal liability for overserving a customer. That's what happened recently to a Lake Worth bartender.
DWI Crash in Lake Worth
On November 27, 2021, a customer in a Lake Worth taco shop was involved in a crash that killed a Euless police detective. The man ran a red light and hit the off-duty detective's vehicle, killing the detective and critically injuring his wife and two children. The man's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit of .08%, and he had THC in his system. But the bartender who served the man in the taco shop is also facing charges. Police say she overserved the DWI driver, and her license to serve alcohol expired then. She is facing a charge of “sale to certain persons.”
Overserving in Texas
In Texas, you can face charges for the sale or delivery of alcohol to “certain persons” if you “sell[…] an alcoholic beverage to a habitual drunkard or an intoxicated or insane person” with “criminal negligence.” Criminal negligence is something more than ordinary negligence. It involved a situation where a bartender “ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that something bad could result from serving someone alcohol.
To qualify as “criminal negligence,” the risk of bad consequences must be serious enough that failing to perceive it is a “gross deviation” from the ordinary standard of care. In this case, the bad result was the death of one person and critical injuries to three more in a DWI crash. In Texas, selling or delivering alcohol to “certain persons” is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI and Criminal Defense
If you're facing DWI charges or charges for allegedly overserving or selling alcohol to a drunk customer, you need legal assistance as soon as possible. The consequences of a conviction can be serious, and you shouldn't try to do this alone. Attorney Doug Murphy is an expert in Criminal Defense and DWI law with Board Certifications in both these specialty areas of the law. In fact, Doug is one of only two attorneys in Texas to hold Board Certifications in both Criminal Defense and DWI Defense.
Doug is also well-regarded by his peers in the Houston legal community, as evidenced by his selection as “Lawyer of the Year” for Houston DWI Defense in 2023. This recognition from U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers in America is based on the nomination and votes of lawyers in the Houston area. Find out why the press calls Doug “the drinking driver's best friend.” Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to schedule a consultation today.