Dram Shop Laws are enforced in 43 states. New Mexico is one of them.
Dram Shop Laws pertain to bars, taverns and other establishments that serve alcohol. The laws strive to achieve two main goals. First, to discourage the sale of alcohol to minors. Second, to hold accountable businesses who, by over serving a patron, have contributed to the injuries of innocent parties.
The liability of a business is determined by considering if the establishment served or sold alcohol to an intoxicated person. This means the person’s intoxication was either “reasonably apparent” (viable, evident and easily observed by employees) or the business had actual knowledge that the person was intoxicated.
While the damages that can be awarded in a case are capped, the dollar amounts are still large. Currently, the caps are $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident. Damage to property is capped at $20,000. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations allows for a 36 month window from the time of the accident for dram shop liability claim to be filed.
Aside from being named a party to a costly lawsuit should an accident or injury occur, a business can also be cited. These citations can run as high as $10,000 and may lead to the business’s liquor license being revoked.
Businesses can actively avoid being held accountable under dram shop laws by being proactive. First and foremost, ensure all employees have been properly trained regarding the serving of alcohol and how to spot intoxicated individuals. It is important to revisit this training regularly during employee meetings and training sessions. It is also a good rule of thumb to have information regarding taxi service and ride share programs posted in visible areas throughout the establishment. Going the extra mile of not only cutting off intoxicated customers but making it easier for them figure out a safe way home is the key to avoiding potential liability.
If you sell or serve alcohol in New Mexico, take the time to fully understand the law as it pertains to dram shops. After all, innocent lives are at stake.
Contact us today if you have been named in a Dram Shop Lawsuit. We are here to help.