In Texas, if you are in a crash and suffer injuries because of the negligence of a drunk driver, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against that person to receive compensation for your injuries. In some situations, if the intoxicated driver was drinking at a party or other gathering, the host who provided the alcohol could be held liable.
Texas Dram Shop Laws and Social Host Liability
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2 contains the state’s laws regarding both dram shop and social host liability. Dram shops are bars and restaurants that sell alcohol, and the name comes from a “dram,” which is a small amount of liquid. Dram shops may be held liable for an injury caused by an intoxicated customer if an employee sold alcohol that was given to a minor under the age of 18 or if the customer was obviously intoxicated, but an employee continued to serve alcohol or the employer pressured the employee to continue to serve alcohol.
When it comes to social host liability, the law allows the victim of a drunk driving accident to seek damages from any host over the age of 21 who provided alcohol to a minor under the age of 18 if the following two criteria are met:
- The adult is not the parent, guardian, or spouse of the minor.
- The adult knowingly provided the minor an alcoholic beverage or allowed the minor to drink on their property.
If you had an accident with a drunk driver and the social host exceptions apply, the social host could be charged with a misdemeanor. You may pursue a civil case for damages against the social host even if a criminal case is pending.
Civil and criminal cases have different purposes. Civil cases usually involve disputes between people or organizations that are private and do not put others at risk. Criminal cases involve an act that could potentially put everyone in society at risk. This is why the “state” or jurisdiction of the prosecution is the plaintiff in criminal court. Texas is tough on drunk drivers and aims to punish those who drive while intoxicated and to help prevent future incidents.
The Legal Alcohol Limit in Texas
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks with friends and family but making the decision to get behind the wheel when you are above the legal limit is unacceptable. How many drinks it takes to get you over the legal limit will depend on many factors, including your gender and your weight.
For most people, the body can metabolize one drink per hour. In Texas and in all 50 states, lawmakers indicate that a blood alcohol level of .08 is considered legally over the limit.
Damages You Might Be Entitled to After a Drunk Driving Accident
As an accident victim, you have the right to pursue compensation for all economic and non-economic damages related to the crash. Your attorney can help you identify all potential damages, including:
- Costs for medical treatment, including treatment you may need in the future
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
If you are permanently disabled or disfigured after the accident, you might also be entitled to damages for diminished earning capacity and diminished quality of life.
Why It Is a Good Idea to Hire an Attorney After a DWI Wreck
The laws about liability after a drunk driving accident can be confusing—especially if the drunk driver just left someone’s home or property. There is also a statute of limitations of two years from the date of injury to file your case.
If you are injured in a crash by a drunk driver, you need the advice of an attorney who can help you put together your case. Call our office or fill out our contact form to request a free, no-obligation consultation.