Like the majority of states in the U.S., Colorado has instituted dram shop regulations, which make it possible to hold businesses – and sometimes individuals – liable if they provide alcohol to somebody who end up injuring someone else or causing damage because of their intoxication.
Who Can be Held Liable?
Businesses (or “licensees”) who provide alcohol to people who are visibly drunk can be held liable for resulting injuries. Business can also be held liable if they provide alcohol to minors (individuals under 21 in the case of alcohol) even if the minor does not appear to be visibly intoxicated. Social hosts (that is, individual people) will not be held liable for providing alcohol to individuals who are 21 and over even if they appear visibly intoxicated. However, social hosts can be held liable for injuries resulting from them providing alcohol to a minor – or for providing a place for that minor to drink.
What Injuries Does the Dram Shop Law Apply To?
Other states limit dram shop liability to injuries that are foreseeable from the alcohol. However, the Colorado Supreme Court found in 2011 that the injury does not have to be foreseeable for Colorado dram shop law to apply. In the case Build It and They Will Drink, Inc. v. Strauch, a patron of the bar stabbed someone else after consuming alcohol provided by the bar. Although a lower court found that the bar was not liable under the dram shop law because the stabbing was unprovoked and not reasonably foreseeable, the Colorado Supreme Court threw out the ruling after finding that the language of Colorado’s dram shop statute did not call for the establishment of foreseeability.
Does the Dram Shop Law Dissolve Your Liability?
Even if a bar continued to serve you alcohol after you were visibly intoxicated, your own liability in any resulting accidents is not waived, and you are not able to bring a suit against the vendor that continued to provide you with alcohol, nor will you be able to get out of any DUI charges just because an establishment is found liable under Colorado’s dram shop law.
Who Can Sue the Alcohol Server?
The person or company who provided the defendant with alcohol can be brought into the lawsuit by the plaintiff (the party who was injured or his or her estate). Typically, the plaintiff who was injured by the intoxicated individual’s actions will try to bring in the alcohol provider in case the defendant does not have enough resources to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries. The Colorado statute expressly prevents the defendant (or the consumer of the alcohol) from attempting to bring in the business that provided him or her alcohol or trying to recover from the business. Your family or loved ones are also not able to sue the business (or the social host if you are under 21) on your behalf.
Even if a party that has been injured by your intoxication successfully brings in the business that provided you with liquor, you are still on the hook for DUI and personal injury charges, and you may be subject to extensive jail time and steep financial fines and pay-outs. The DUI defense lawyers of the Tiftickjian Law Firm have the legal skill and experience required to effectively defend people accused of drunk or drugged driving or other criminal offenses. To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call our office today at (303) DUI-5280.