Vicarious Liability, Dram Shops, and Criminal Law


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Dram shop and vicarious liability could connect through criminal actions such as drunk driving and injuring others while inebriated while driving away from a bar, restaurant or another shop that sold the individual liquor. When the person driving purchased the alcohol at a specific place, he or she could pass on liability to the company an involve both in the illegal actions.

Vicarious liability transfers the responsibility of a crime from one person, who still retains his or her own responsibility, to another when the other person or company has liability for a crime. When someone breaks the law after visiting a bar, restaurant or other location that serves liquor, he or she could share and transfer liability in his or her crimes when he or she left the location inebriated. This involves both vicarious liability and dram shop laws simultaneously, and it crosses the divide into criminal law. While the person may also face civil liability for whichever person or group he or she wronged, the crimes usually process through the criminal court system.

Vicarious Liability Explained in Dram Shop Law

Dram shop laws connect the business to the sale of alcohol and the person that may later commit a crime. By the actions of the company in supplying the individual with the liquor, the dram shop laws take effect where the entity or restaurant could face criminal charges for negligence. The customer that leaves such an establishment drunk could pass on his or her liability in the situation to the shop or company. Thus, vicarious liability becomes active in the circumstances. Both parties will share the blame, and responsibility for the crimes holds both the establishment and the individual accountable.

Criminal Law Explained

The difference in many issues with vicarious liability is that the company suffers under criminal charges. While the business cannot go to jail or prison, the owners may face severe fines in place of other penalties. The circumstances of a person leaving a company or establishment drunk may connect him or her through vicarious liability and the use of dram shop laws to responsibility in any injuries the person commits, crimes he or she engages in and other complications that arise from his or her actions. The establishment may receive a law enforcement officer issuing charges against the business due to these situations.

The Damage of the Intoxicated

While many individuals that harm others may face civil liability, the criminal side of these actions may land him or her in jail or prison. He or she may also face additional fines before facing similar issues in civil court for anyone that brings forth a claim. However, he or she may not know that his or her actions could transfer liability and responsibility to the business that served him until he or she became drunk. With Dram Shop laws in place, many establishments are very careful in how much alcohol a person drinks and how he or she gets home. However, there are many businesses open that either do not care or are unable to take account of these individuals.

The Intersection Explained

While most cases with vicarious liability affect a company or corporation, it is possible for a restaurant, bar or establishment to face these charges when serving someone alcohol enough to lead to intoxication. The criminal element of vicarious liability only enters into the situation when the person leaving the establishment is drunk and engages in illegal activity. The victim of the activity may seek civil damages, but law enforcement will seek justice through the criminal courts. The perpetrator will often find himself or herself harming the restaurant or bar equally from his or her actions after leaving.

Dram Shop laws in the state may apply vicarious liability or remove it depending on the circumstances. However, the chances of the establishment facing the same criminal charges increases when the illegal actions lead to the injury of another person or company. The establishment may face severe fines, a loss of liquor license or other penalties as the judge or jury decides. It is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer in these circumstances.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Vicarious Liability and Dram Shop Laws

The lawyer hired for the criminal defense may need to explain how the customer was not drunk before leaving the establishment. The evidence in video captures may increase the strength of this argument. Then, the chances of defending against the charges successfully increase.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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