In the past month, police have investigated a couple drunken driving fatalities, including the death of Alicia Ramirez, who police say was killed by an intoxicated driver in late September. A bar fight also led to the death of Zenon Cano Jr. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) explained the liability and risks that go with running a bar and serving alcohol.
“It concerns civil liability for someone who serves alcohol, whether they are in a business or private residence… That individual leaves and causes serious bodily injury, death or property damage. The person that victim obtained the alcohol from is liable,” said Mark Menn, with TABC.
This year, Lubbock has investigated 11 cases at businesses for aggravated assaults, homicides and DUI fatalities.
“We can look at bar tabs when we go to the location. We are going to get statements from the witness and employees involved. We are going to look at video footage from internal camera surveillance. We are going to look at the blood alcohol level of the person,” said Menn.
However, investigations are not always simple, according to Stephen Hamilton, a lawyer who covers DWI cases.
“Time is the real defining point,” he said. “Can they show the person was leaving the bar and then the accident happened, versus, did they go somewhere else, like another bar?”
Detectives work with crash scene investigators and determine where that person came from and if they came from a TABC-licensed location, according to Menn. However, if a business had staff trained by TABC and certified in serving alcohol, that can act as a safeguard if an incident does occur at their business.
“If the server was TABC certified, the bar has an affirmative offense in that case. It would move the liability over to the server himself or herself,” said Hamilton.