In August 2020, Colorado’s legislature amended its 2018 laws making DUI (driving under the influence) triggered by a 0.08% or higher blood alcohol content (BAC) or DWAI (driving while ability impaired) a felony after 3 or more prior convictions. But even with harsher penalties for drunk driving, people in Colorado continue to get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol.
As with any automobile accident with a known at-fault driver, people injured due to another’s drunk driving can pursue a negligence claim against the at-fault driver. When a drunk person gets behind the wheel he or she is already breaking the law, but when that person causes injury to another person, the injured party can seek compensation from that person and his or her insurance company in litigation under negligence and negligence per se causes of action. There are others as well.
But negligence may not be your only option. One cause of action that many people do not think about when involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver is called dram shop liability. Dram shop liability means that if the drunk driver got drunk at a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, and it was or should have been clear to the bar or restaurant that they were serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, that bar or restaurant may be held liable to the injured parties. This law creates a separate defendant in your legal action resulting from an auto accident with a drunk driver, and it means another party besides the at-fault driver may be liable for your injuries and may be responsible for compensating you.
The most important fact to know about dram shop liability is how long you have to pursue it. Under Colorado law, you only have ONE YEAR from the date the alcohol was served to claim against the bar or restaurant responsible for the at-fault driver’s drunkenness.
Bottom line: it is never too early to call a personal injury attorney after your auto accident, especially when it involves a drunk driver, and the attorneys at Bell & Pollock, P.C. would be happy to discuss your case with you.