What Is New Mexico’s Dram Shop Law?
It’s no secret that drunk driving accidents can often be life-altering for both the driver and the victims. The injuries sustained in these accidents can be catastrophic. It’s also common for the drunk driver to sometimes not carry enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the injured party, especially if the injuries are severe. This is precisely why New Mexico and other states have a dram shop law. The New Mexico dram shop law is a civil liability statute that leaves a dram shop liable for the harmful acts of its intoxicated customers when the establishment acts negligently in serving the intoxicated customer alcohol, and the customer then causes harm.
Understanding Third-Party Liability
The New Mexico dram shop law involves third-party liability, which means that if someone appears overly intoxicated yet is continued to be served alcohol at an establishment and then that person causes an accident, the victim injured in the accident can hold the establishment partly responsible for the damage. This New Mexico dram shop law essentially acknowledges that places like bars and restaurants have a responsibility to limit alcohol when someone has had too much.
Unless the bar or restaurant conducts blood-alcohol tests on every customer that drinks at their establishment, there is no definitive way to prove that one customer is more intoxicated than another. However, New Mexico state law says you can hold an establishment liable if it is found guilty of the following:
- Sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person AND
- The person’s intoxication was “reasonably apparent” OR
- The establishment knew the person was intoxicated.
In fact, the New Mexico state Supreme Court recently helped define the issue of dram shop law in Gutierrez vs. Meteor Monument. In this case, the court ruled that intoxication has to be visible, clear, and easily observed by the establishment or its employees. However, circumstantial evidence is allowable in these types of cases, including the intoxicated person’s testimony, the amount of time spent at the establishment, and the police report associated with the incident. In addition to being at fault for any damages caused by the intoxicated customer, establishments that overserve alcohol can also receive citations as a result of their negligence. These citations include the following
- The first citation in a 12-month period results in a one-day closure and a fine of $1,000 to $2,000
- The second citation in a 12-month period results in a seven-day closure and a fine of $2,000 to $3,000
- The third citation in a 12-month period results in the revocation of the liquor license and a fine of $10,000
New Mexico Social Host Liability
Establishments like bars or restaurants are not the only ones that must follow the New Mexico dram shop law. For example, what if someone was overserved at a house party? Is the host of the party responsible for their guest’s intoxication as well as any damage caused by that person? Believe it or not, the answer is yes.
Under the social host liability portion of the New Mexico dram shop law, the hosts of private events are liable for injuries or death caused by overserving alcohol or failing to prevent an intoxicated guest from driving drunk. The key piece to social host liability is if the host served alcohol with “reckless disregard”. These types of claims usually must be filed within three years of the event. If you’ve been harmed by a person who was overserved at a restaurant, bar, or nightclub, there may be more negligent parties involved than you may think. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer is always recommended for these types of cases as they can help guide you through the process.
Injured In A Drunk Driving Accident? Call Garcia Legal
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Albuquerque car accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to recover monetary compensation from more parties than just the drunk driver. Our experienced personal injury attorney at Garcia Legal has extensive experience handling DUI cases. We have the resources to conduct an exhaustive investigation to uncover all potentially liable parties to maximize your potential compensation. Call us today for a free consultation to walk through your case and together we will determine how to proceed.