“Dram Shop Laws” in New Mexico

Drunk driving accidents occur at a startling rate across New Mexico, injuring hundreds of New Mexicans each year. While the reasons behind drunk driving accidents vary, many times people over consume alcohol at clubs or bars and then get in their car and cause an accident. Awhile back, the State Legislature of New Mexico decided that it needed to hold these establishments liable for the over serving of their customers. These laws are called “Dram Shop laws,” and they allow the victims of New Mexico drunk driving accidents to sue the establishment that over served the person who caused the accident.

wine-glasses-1245416-m.jpgNew Mexico’s Dram Shop Laws: Madrid v. Brinker Restaurant Corporation

In a recent case in front of the Court of Appeals of New Mexico, the court had the opportunity to explain Dram Shop laws and how they apply in personal injury cases. In the case of Madrid v. Brinker Restaurant Corporation, Madrid was the passenger on a motorcycle that Sanchez was driving. At some point, the motorcycle got into an accident with a van, when the van failed to stop at a stop sign. The driver of the van, whose blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and causing great bodily injury with a motor vehicle while driving under the influence was sentenced to six years in prison.

Under New Mexico’s Dram Shop laws, Madrid then sued the restaurant for damages, claiming that “in the hours before the accident, Defendants served alcohol to Sanchez to the point of intoxication while he and Plaintiff were patrons at Defendants’ restaurant.” To support her claim against the restaurant, Madrid argued that “Sanchez’s blood-alcohol level, which exceeded the legal limit, affected his ability to operate his motorcycle and contributed to the accident, and that a sober driver would have been able to take evasive action.”

In response, Brinker Restaurant Corporation argued that the accident was the van driver’s fault, rather than Sanchez’s fault. Brinker claims that, even a sober motorcycle driver would not have been able to avoid an accident when the van ran the stop sign.

The Result

The court ended up dismissing the case against the restaurant, finding that there was no reliable evidence suggesting that a sober motorcycle driver could have avoided the accident. The court noted, however, that Madrid was proper in naming the restaurant as a party, but in this specific case the proof was lacking.

How This Case Affect New Mexico Personal Injury Plaintiffs

This is not a helpful case to New Mexico personal injury plaintiffs. However, it is not all that harmful either. The case doesn’t limit the State’s Dram Shop laws in any way, only upholds a strong requirement of causation (i.e., that the restaurant’s over-serving actually contributed to the accident.)

Have You Been Involved in a New Mexico Auto Accident?

If you have recently been involved in a New Mexico car accident, you should contact and experienced New Mexico personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It may be that you are entitled to monetary damages from a source you never knew existed. To find out more about the laws that allow New Mexico accident victims to recover from those who caused the accident, contact the Fine Law Firm. The experienced and dedicated lawyers at the Fine Law Firm are prepared to meet with you at your convenience to discuss the facts of your case. Click here, or call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

New Mexico Man Caught Driving While Intoxicated for the Eleventh Time, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2014.

New Mexico Appellate Court Opinion Discusses the Adoption of the Doctrine of Circuity in a Recent Negligence Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2014.