Aside from the often devastating impacts of drunk driving, DUI collisions also can expose drunk drivers to lawsuits for a victim’s injuries or death. Furthermore, “dram shop” laws in most states allow victims of drunk driving accidents (or their families) to hold bars and alcohol retailers accountable for the death, injury or other damages caused by an intoxicated customer.

“Dram shop” laws are named after establishments in 18th Century England that sold gin by the spoonful (called a “dram”). These laws are enforced through civil lawsuits, allowing DUI victims or their families to sue alcohol vendors or retailers for monetary damages. Typically, when the plaintiff wins a lawsuit against both an alcohol vendor and the intoxicated driver, the compensatory damages are divided between the two defendants.

In one such case, a New Jersey jury awarded $135 million to the family of a girl paralyzed in 1999 after a drunk driver collided with the car in which she was riding. The drunk driver reportedly had a blood-alcohol concentration that was double the legal limit after leaving a New York Giants football game. It was determined that the concessionaire at Giants’ Stadium shared the liability for the victim’s serious injury.


New Mexico Statutes

N.M. Stat. Ann. §41-11-1

A. No civil liability shall be predicated upon the breach of §60-7A-16 NMSA 1978 by a licensee, except in the case of the licensee who:
(1) sold or served alcohol to a person who was intoxicated;
(2) it was reasonably apparent to the licensee that the person buying or apparently receiving service of alcoholic beverages was intoxicated; and
(3) the licensee knew from the circumstances that the person buying or receiving service of alcoholic beverages was intoxicated.

B. No person who was sold or served alcoholic beverages while intoxicated shall be entitled to collect any damages or obtain any other relief against the licensee who sold or served the alcoholic beverages unless the licensee is determined to have acted with gross negligence and reckless disregard for the safety of the person who purchased or was served the alcoholic beverages.

C. No licensee is chargeable with knowledge of previous acts by which a person becomes intoxicated at other locations unknown to the licensee.

D. As used in this section:
(1) “licensee” means a person licensed under the provisions of the Liquor Control Act and the agents or servants of the licensee; and
(2) “intoxicated” means the impairment of a person’s mental and physical faculties as a result of alcoholic beverage use so as to substantially diminish that person’s ability to think and act in a manner in which an ordinary [ordinarily] prudent person, in full possession of his faculties, would think and act under like circumstances.

F. A licensee may be civilly liable for the negligent violation of §§60-7B-1 and 60-7B-1.1 NMSA 1978. The fact-finder shall consider all the circumstances of the sale in determining whether there is negligence such as the representation used to obtain the alcoholic beverage. It shall not be negligence per se to violate §§60-7B-1 and 60-7B-1.1 NMSA 1978.

G. A licensee shall not be held civilly liable pursuant to the provisions of Subsection F of this section except when:
(1) it is demonstrated by the preponderance of the evidence that the licensee knew, or that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have known, that the person who received the alcoholic beverages was a minor; and
(2) licensee’s violation of §§60-7B-1 or 60-7B-1.1 NMSA 1978 was a proximate cause of the plaintiff ‘s injury, death or property damage.

H. No person may seek relief in a civil claim against a licensee or a social host for injury or death or damage to property which was proximately caused by the sale, service or provision of alcoholic beverages except as provided in this section.

I. Liability arising under this section shall not exceed $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person in each transaction or occurrence or, subject to that limitation for one person, $100,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in each transaction or occurrence, and $20,000 for property damage in each transaction or occurrence.

N.M. Stat. Ann. §60-7A-16

It is a violation of the Liquor Control Act [60-3A-1 NMSA 1978] for a person to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to or to procure or aid in the procurement of alcoholic beverages for an intoxicated person if the person selling, serving, procuring or aiding in procurement, knows or has reason to know that he is selling, serving, procuring or aiding in procurement of alcoholic beverages for a person that is intoxicated.

N.M. Stat. Ann. §60-7B-1

A. It is a violation of the Liquor Control Act [60-3A-1 NMSA 1978] for a person, including a person licensed pursuant to the provisions of the Liquor Control Act, or an employee, agent or lessee of that person, if he knows or has reason to know that he is violating the provisions of this section, to:
(1) sell, serve or give alcoholic beverages to a minor or permit a minor to consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises
(2) buy alcoholic beverages for or procure the sale or service of alcoholic beverages to a minor;
(3) deliver alcoholic beverages to a minor; or
(4) aid or assist a minor to buy, procure or be served with alcoholic beverages.

F. In addition to the penalties provided in §60-6C-1 NMSA 1978, a violation of the provisions of Subsection A of this section is a fourth degree felony and the offender shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of §31-18-15 NMSA 1978.

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