Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Who Is At Fault?

I just read in the paper that a local bar, Fuze Box, has been ordered to pay a drunk driving victim $550,000 in compensation.  He was not a patron but was a victim of a patron of the bar.  Said patron was over served and made the CHOICE to get into his shiny Lexus and rear end a car unlucky enough to be on the road at the same time of night.  The victim suffered multiple injuries to his neck and spine and has had to have surgeries to repair the damage.  He did not have any choice in these events, but half a million dollars is certain to make him feel better.

But whose fault is drunk driving?  Is it the bouncer who let in the patron (who was apparently visibly intoxicated)?  Is it the bar tender who continued to serve him?  Is it his friends who should have taken the keys? Is it the alcohol manufacturer for making something that has the potential to do damage to others?  Or is it the person who chose to make a bad choice?

Usually I would agree that ultimately you are the only person truly responsible for your own behavior, but... Alcoholism is a disease.  You really can't pick and choose how it affects you.  Drug addiction (though also preventable) is a disease.  Nobody wants their body to be ravaged by crystal meth.  Sexual assault victims are not responsible when they are intoxicated.  They are so incapacitated that they can't consent.

So who is responsible for drunk driving?  There are commercials and bill boards to remind us to make smart choices.  There are check points to find those that should not be on the road.  There are laws that attempt to make the roads safer. 

Who is responsible:  the media, the police, lawmakers, the individual?  Certainly not the bar owners.  Just as simply as blaming McDonald's for the childhood obesity epidemic and for putting toys in the Happy Meal.  It doesn't make any sense.  And after this verdict, how many other bars are next?

1 comment:

  1. Section 65 of the New York Alcohol Beverage Control Law, captioned “Prohibited sales,” provides:

    No person shall sell, deliver or give away or cause or permit or procure to be sold, delivered or given away any alcoholic beverages to
    1. Any person, actually or apparently, under the age of twenty-one years;
    2. Any visibly intoxicated person;
    3. Any habitual drunkard known to be such to the person authorized to dispense any alcoholic beverages.

    We've all seen drunk people (borderline and completely annihilated) get served at bars. We've probably been the drunk getting served too.

    Whether we like it or not those bartenders are breaking the law and the bars should be held responsible. Maybe we'd have less fights, dwi's, etc. if bars took their responsibilities seriously and are held responsible when they don't. Maybe four cops in Saratoga wouldn't have gotten injured over the weekend trying to break up a 40 person brawl outside the bars on Caroline Street.