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Mark L. Deniz, Esq.

Do San Diego bars share responsibility for DUI after overserving a customer?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2022 | DUI |

A DUI conviction is meant, in part, to punish the driver for their actions. But when someone drives after becoming intoxicated at a bar, restaurant or nightclub, they did not get the alcohol out of thin air. The establishment sold it to them, let them drink it on their premises, and potentially let the customer drive away knowing they were impaired. Shouldn’t a San Diego business that overserved a customer who later got arrested on a drinking and driving charge bear some responsibility for the situation?

Legal duties for California bar and restaurant servers

It is against the law in California for a business to serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person. The term “obviously intoxicated” means just what it sounds like: a person who shows the classic signs of being drunk (slurred speech, poor balance, alcohol smell on their breath, etc.). A bartender or waiter caught overserving a customer could face a misdemeanor charge.

Meanwhile, a law designed to prevent overserving just went into effect. As of July 1, all bartenders and managers at establishments that sell alcohol must go through a training program that teaches them how to prevent the sale of alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers. The training will also discuss management policies bars and restaurants should implement and the impact that drinking and driving has on society.

The heavier burden on drivers

Thus, the law does put a burden on alcohol servers not to overserve. But it focuses on individual employees and less on the businesses themselves. And a misdemeanor charge may carry far lower penalties than you could be facing as the driver. Depending on the circumstances and if you have a prior record, you could lose your license, be ordered to pay a huge fine and have to spend time in jail.