Dram Shop Injury Lawyers Serving Rhode Island
Every single day, nearly 30 people die in drunk driving crashes in the United States. This equals more than 10,000 lives lost every year due to drunk drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a crime and can have tragic consequences.
In the state of Rhode Island, any driver who is caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater is criminally guilty of drunk driving.
Dram Shop Laws in Providence
R.I. Gen. Laws § 3-5-1 provides that a license is required for the manufacture, sale, and importation of alcohol. Restaurants, bars, liquor shops, breweries, and wineries must all have a license to sell alcohol or allow for alcohol consumption on their premises.
When an establishment has a liquor license, they assume specific liabilities for their patrons and can be held liable for negligent or reckless service of alcohol.
Effects of Alcohol on Driving
Even small amounts of alcohol can have a significant effect on driving abilities. Alcohol itself impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination, which can result in serious and fatal car accidents. This is why safety experts continue to warn drivers that even buzzed driving is drunk driving.
As alcohol levels rise in the bloodstream, the risk of car accidents increases. Even one drink is enough to impair your driving abilities and raise your risk of crashing and suffering serious injury.
- BAC of 0.02 – some loss of judgement, relaxation of the body, and a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time
- BAC of 0.05 – exaggerated behaviors, loss of small-muscle control (such as focusing eyes), and difficulty steering. Reduced response to emergency driving situations makes it more likely to get into a car crash.
- BAC of 0.08 – poor muscle coordination, difficulty detecting dangerous or hazardous situations, and impaired memory. Speed control and information processing capabilities are reduced.
- BAC of 0.10 – slowed reaction times and slurred speech. Reduced ability to maintain positioning in a lane and decreased braking times.
- BAC of 0.15 – major loss of balance, substantial difficulty maintaining vehicle control, poor attention to driving tasks.
How to Be a Responsible Drinker in Providence
Having a few drinks with friends is something most adults enjoy. However, it is important to be a responsible drinker. If you are planning on drinking, it is important that you plan a safe ride home. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends all adults follow these steps when drinking.
- Never drink and drive.
- Plan a safe ride home before you head out – choose a non-drinking driver or arrange for a rideshare service to pick you up.
- Do not let friends, who have been drinking, get behind the wheel of a car. If necessary, take their keys and arrange for a sober ride home.
- If you host a party, make sure all guests who are drinking leave with a sober driver.
- Always wear your seat belts when driving – this is your best defense against other impaired drivers on the road.
Drunk Driving Statistics
- According to MADD, Rhode Island ranks 45th for drunk driving
- Drunk drivers are responsible for 37% of all fatalities on the road
- In Rhode Island, drunk driving cost $84 million a year in crash-related death costs
- From 2003 to 2012, 308 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in Rhode Island
- In 2016, Rhode Island passed an all-offender ignition interlock law
- In 2017, 83 drivers were killed in motor vehicle fatalities. 41% of those drivers had a BAC greater than the legal limit of 0.08. 24% had a BAC of more than 2x the legal limit.
- In 2017, there were more fatal drunk driving accidents in August in Rhode Island than any other month
- From 2015 to 2017, the number of fatal drunk driving accidents in Rhode Island nearly doubled
- Nationally, 1.9% of drivers reported driving after drinking too much. In Rhode Island, that number was significantly higher with 2.4% of drivers reporting having driven drunk in the last 30 days
Impact of Drunk Drivers in the United States
- Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve a drunk driver
- One person is killed in the United States every 48 minutes because of drunk driving
- Men are 4x more likely to be in fatal drunk driving crashes
- In 2017, drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 made up 42% of all fatal drunk driving crashes
- Minimum drinking age laws have saved 31,959 lives since 1975
- The highest percentage of drunk drivers in 2017 was 21 to 24-year-olds
- Impaired driving cost the U.S. $44 billion annually
- Majority of fatal drunk driving crashes in the United States occur in the month of July
- More fatal drunk driving accidents occur between the hours of 3 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
- More fatal drunk driving accidents occur on the weekends between Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- Fatal drunk driving crashes occur nearly 2x more often in daylight hours
All-Offender Ignition Interlock Law
In 2016, Rhode Island passed an all-offender ignition interlock law. This law requires a judge to order ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders who apply for a hardship license, as well as repeat and first-time offenders with a BAC greater than .15 after the hardship license ends.
First DUI offenders can have their ignition interlock device installed upon conviction. They are required to keep this device on their vehicle for between 30 days and 1 year.
Second DUI offenders can have their ignition interlock device installed 45 days after their conviction. They are required to keep this device on their vehicle for between 6 months and 2 years.
Ignition interlock devices work. From 2006 to 2016, ignition interlock devices stopped a drunk driver 2,565 times.
This law is one step towards reducing the number of drunk driving accidents in the state. However, more can be done to improve Rhode Island’s Ignition Interlock Law, including:
- Ask the user to prove a certain period of sober driver before exiting the interlock program
- Credit early installation of device
- Advertise the law during Drive Sober Get Pulled Over campaigns
- Create an indigent fund to enable poor interlock users to have access to these devices
- Require interlocks in all plea agreements or reductions to DUI charges
How to Reduce Drunk Driving in Providence
In order to reduce drunk driving in Rhode Island, the CDC and MADD recommend the following:
- Sobriety checkpoints – in Rhode Island, sobriety checkpoints are not allowed. However, these checkpoints have been proven to help reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads.
- Improving current ignition interlock laws – Rhode Island took a big step towards safety in 2016, however, the law could improve further. A defined compliance-based removal component to the law could be added, as well as creating an indigent fund so poor interlock users have access to these devices.
- School-based education – teaching new drivers and teens about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving is critical to preventing these deadly crashes.
- New Laws – Drunk driving could be reduced if Rhode Island enacted an administrative license revocation law, as well as a law-making child endangerment a felony.
- Increase Penalties for Refusal – drivers who refuse alcohol tests are not penalized harshly enough. Drunk driving could be reduced if Rhode Island criminalized and expedited warrants for drunk drivers who refused the alcohol test and required ignition interlock devices.
Contact a Providence Dram Shop Injury Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been injured in a drunk driving accident, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled Rhode Island dram shop lawyer. At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd, our Rhode Island drunk driving accident lawyers work tirelessly for injured accident victims.
We know that drunk driving accidents in Rhode Island can be complex and there may be multiple parties to blame for your accident and your injuries. As such, we investigate all angles of your accident to help you obtain the maximum compensation you are entitled to. Call us today at (401) 283-0745 or fill out our confidential contact form for a free initial consultation and review of your case.
A dram shop is any establishment from which individuals purchase alcohol. A dram shop can be a bar, restaurant, club, liquor store, or other business. The establishment generally has a license to sell liquor from the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR), specifically, the Department’s Division of Commercial Licensing and Regulation. Alternatively, people who hold parties and serve alcohol are called social hosts.
The term “dram shop” relates to 18th Century establishments in England that sold liquor by the spoonful (called a “dram”). Today, dram shop laws enable victims of DUI accidents to sue alcohol vendors or retailers for financial compensation.
Under the Rhode Island Liquor Liability Act, two primary acts are punishable in the state:
- The dram shop sells alcohol negligently (R.I. Gen. Laws § 3-14-6): The negligent sale of alcohol involves situations where the provider knows or reasonably could have known that the individual who purchased the alcohol was visibly intoxicated or someone under the age of 21.
- The dram shop sells alcohol recklessly (R.I. Gen. Laws § 3-14-7): The reckless sale of alcohol involves situations where a vendor intentionally provides alcohol to someone despite knowing that the person is visibly intoxicated or someone under the age of 21.
- Rhode Island also recognizes common-law negligence. This means that a bar/establishment that serves alcohol may be liable for letting a visibly intoxicated customer leave and drive away.
Although employees of dram shops may not be physically present in vehicles that cause wrecks, they have a duty to ensure that they do not sell alcohol in a reckless or negligent manner. Not only does dram shop liability hold negligent liquor vendors accountable, but it also is intended to ensure that victims of drunk driving accidents can recover fair compensation for their losses, as drunk drivers may have limited financial resources.
If you or a loved one were injured by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses. Depending on the circumstances in your dram shop claim, you may be eligible to recover damages for your:
- Bodily injury, including paralysis, amputations and brain injury.
- Medical bills
- Past Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship and consortium
If a loved one died in a crash caused by an intoxicated driver, you may be able to pursue compensation in a wrongful death claim. Damages in a wrongful death claim can cover funeral costs, lost benefits, and more to keep your family financially afloat during a difficult time.
Proving fault on the part of an alcohol vendor is a complex task that requires time, effort, and experience.
The dram shop attorneys at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd. have a proven record of success in these difficult cases. We thoroughly investigate each case to determine the facts involved, including:
- Bar tabs
- Credit card receipts
- Video camera footage, if available
- Witness testimony
- Police reports
- Medical records
It is in your best interest to discuss your situation with a Providence dram shop attorney as soon as possible after being injured by a drunk driver. A Providence dram shop lawyer will better understand the circumstances in your case and how the law is applied to your situation.