Over-Service Claims in Washington

You might have read about it. A drunk driver killed a motorcycle rider in a three-car crash in Auburn and was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter. The press has focused—understandably—on the drunk driver.  But she’s not the only one to blame.

Bars and restaurants can be held responsible if they let someone have too much to drink.  And the reality is that they have way more insurance than most drunk drivers.

In Washington the standard for imposing liability on bars and restaurants used to be “obvious intoxication”.  But the law has changed from “obviously intoxicated” to “apparently intoxicated”.  This relaxed standard means it’s easier to pursue over-service claims.  And we’ve handled a lot of them.

A bar served two drinks to a woman. She had four drinks earlier in the night. She drove the wrong way on the viaduct and hit our client. We recovered $1M from the bar.

It’s important to preserve evidence like video and receipts.  It’s also important to interview witnesses to find out how the drunk driver appeared.  Was she loud, obnoxious, spilling drinks or breaking pool cues?  That’s the kind of stuff we find out and why we’re so effective.

1 thought on “Over-Service Claims in Washington

  1. David Holland

    I am a Deputy Sheriff with over 10 years of civilian law enforcement experience. During this time I have partnered with the Washington State Canibus and Alcohol bureau on cases that resulted in several bars in my jurisdiction of over serving.

    To confront this problem in my small community I simply did various bar checks at sporadic times so they; the establishment, wouldn’t know know when to expect me.

    A lot of the time I found that each bar tender had their own groupies; friends. And there were within my community a bartender or two that overserved there friends, even when they would come in already intoxicated to the point to where they couldn’t even take care of themselves, let alone leave the bar and get behind the wheel.

    In one case I approached one of these so called groupies. He was with another person as he staggered towards his vehicle. However, most of the/my community was asleep and would have never have known what could’ve have been because I confronted him, identified myself and told him that if he gets behind the wheel and starts his vehicle I am going to conduct an investigation for DUI.

    I ended up taking him home, and he thanked me. He now tells others in the community how thankful he is for being stopped for possibly making a deadly mistake.

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