It’s time once again for the national, state, and local authorities to band together in a fight against serious injuries and wrongful deaths out on the holiday roadways that result from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has named the campaign as “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
You may see some of the ads over the holiday on television or hear the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” messages on the radio. The marketing campaign this year has “invisible” police officers who grab inebriated folk before they can drive away in their cars. Working together with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and state governors, NHTSA has spent millions of dollars trying to promote this message of “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” with tips like:
- Plan ahead. If you will be drinking, do not drive. Designate a sober driver or arrange another safe way home.
- If you are impaired, find another way home. Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use public transportation or contact your local sober ride program.
- Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.
Meanwhile, the sad truth is that there will be drunk drivers on the holiday roads this December and tragedy will hit innocent families all because someone was drunk and driving a machine like a car or truck or van or motorcycle. Police officers will police, organizations like MADD will warn and educate, but there will be fatalities.
In these situations, criminal laws will come into play forcing the drunk driver to give up his or her freedom as they are arrested and charged with violation of laws against driving drunk. However, there will also be civil laws like personal injury laws and perhaps other laws like those that make a hotel or bar responsible for its patrons who get intoxicated on their premises and there may be laws that likewise make a host responsible for allowing their guest to leave a party to drive away while obviously drunk.
For example, Indiana statute § 7.1-5-10-15.5 states:
5. (a) As used in this section, “furnish” includes barter, deliver, sell, exchange, provide, or give away.
(b) A person who furnishes an alcoholic beverage to a person is not liable in a civil action for damages caused by the impairment or intoxication of the person who was furnished the alcoholic beverage unless:
(1) the person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished; and
(2) the intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.
(c) If a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years of age suffers injury or death proximately caused by the person’s voluntary intoxication, the:
(2) person’s dependents;
(3) person’s personal representative; or
(4) person’s heirs;
may not assert a claim for damages for personal injury or death against a person who furnished an alcoholic beverage that contributed to the person’s intoxication, unless subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2) apply.
As added by P.L.80-1986, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.76-1996, SEC.1.
Drunk drivers must be held responsible, however there may be applicable state laws that also extend a duty to those who are supplying that drink in certain situations. That’s an important message to get out on this festive season as well.