Mississippi’s Dram Shop Laws
It is no secret that drunk drivers are dangerous and that it is illegal in Mississippi to drink and drive. In the United States nearly one third of all traffic-related deaths were attributed to alcohol in 2014 and over 9,967 people were killed; 607 of these deaths were in Mississippi alone. Drinking exponentially increases the risk of causing a car accident. If you are ever injured by a drunk driver behind the wheel you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. In some cases, you may be able to recover from a business that provided the alcohol to the drunk driver, such a bar, restaurant or liquor store.
“Dram Shop” Law
Dram shop laws, so named for the unit of measure dram that alcohol was traditionally sold by, hold a third party liable for the injuries that an intoxicated person causes. Mississippi Code Section 67-3-73 states that in most cases, vendors and stores may not be held liable for any injuries based on the fact that they sold alcohol to a person who went on to cause injury to other. However, there is an exception to the rule. A vendor or store may be held liable to the injured party if the alcohol was sold to a “visibly intoxicated” person.
What constitutes a person being “visibly intoxicated” is not defined by Mississippi legislative law. However, intoxication comes with certain tell-tale signs that almost everyone is familiar with. A person who is visibly intoxicated may:
- slur their words;
- have difficulty standing upright;
- have difficulty walking in a straight line;
- have bloodshot glassy eyes;
- exhibit drowsiness; and/or
- have difficulty forming complete thoughts and sentences.
This list is not comprehensive and there are many more visible signs of intoxication that shop clerks, servers and bartenders should be able to recognize.
Proving Third Party Liability
Proving that a person was visibly intoxicated and thus should not have been sold alcohol can be an uphill battle for any plaintiff to show when claiming that a third party like a bar or liquor store should be held liable when their injuries were caused by a drunk driver. There are many ways to prove that the third party should have known that the offending drunk party was visibly intoxicated. This can include:
- neutral witnesses such as diners in a restaurant or patrons in a bar;
- testimony of the employees who sold the alcohol themselves;
- video footage at a liquor store or other establishment; and
- evidence after the fact of a drunk driving accident, such as blood alcohol tests.
In many cases, evidence that a person was visibly intoxicated is not too hard to come by. This is due to the fact that drinking to the point of intoxication makes a person louder and more accident prone.
If Your Injuries Were Caused By A Drunk Driver, Consider All Options
Every person responsible for causing your injuries should be held responsible. This includes stores and establishments that serve alcohol to those who are already at the point of intoxication. Restaurants and vendors have a duty to the public to protect them from drunk drivers and the injuries that they can cause. However, these cases are extremely difficult and recovery can be rare. These cases are fact based and differ on a case-by-case basis. Let an experienced attorney review your case for free to determine if you are entitled to recovery. If you have been injured by a drunk driver in the Gulfport and Biloxi area, consider contacting the Law Offices of Judy Guice for representation today.