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New Mexico Dram Shop Laws and DUI Accident Lawsuits

September 22, 2023
New Mexico Dram Shop Laws and DUI Accident Lawsuits

Are you the victim of a DUI accident? When the other driver was operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, it’s easy to assume that they were 100% at fault for the accident. However, New Mexico’s dram shop laws could mean that another party, such as the bartender or waiter that over-served them alcohol, was also responsible for the collision. These laws play an important role in keeping New Mexico roads safe and can also assist you in obtaining a full recovery for your injuries as a result of a drunk driving incident. 

What Are Dram Shop Laws? 

New Mexico’s dram shop laws fall under the New Mexico Statutes Annotated, Section 41-11-1, as well as the various case law interpreting such. These laws state that victims of crashes involving alcohol could hold the party who sold or served alcohol to the intoxicated person liable in specific circumstances, including when it was “reasonably apparent” to the server that the person they sold to was intoxicated. Notably, an intoxicated person can only recover against the person who over served them if they prove that such was the result of gross negligence. 

Bartenders, servers, and restaurant workers have a responsibility to be aware of how intoxicated a patron is and cut them off from alcohol once they are visibly drunk. This responsibility helps prevent highly intoxicated persons, who may not be able to make wise decisions, from putting other people in danger by driving drunk.

If you can show that the server or bartender who sold alcohol to the at-fault party in your accident was reasonably aware of their intoxication, you may be able to seek compensation from the server and/or bar under New Mexico’s dram shop laws. 

Are Social Hosts Subject to Dram Shop Laws?

What if the driver in your DUI accident got their alcohol from a social gathering? There are some instances in which New Mexico social hosts may be subject to these same dram shop laws. Namely, if the social host acted with gross negligence or reckless disregard for the safety of others, they may be partially liable for the accident as well. 

How Can Dram Shop Laws Help Your Case? 

Dram shop laws can potentially increase the payout to victims in New Mexico DUI accidents because you may have the opportunity to hold two or more parties financially liable for your accident. This can allow you to obtain a full and fair recovery. 

If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy did not have high enough coverage limits to account for all of your expenses, you could turn to the liable server or restaurant for additional damages. Alternatively, if you decide to pursue legal action, you could hold both parties liable in a lawsuit, claiming both economic and non-economic damages.

These non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship, in the case of fatal crashes

Punitive damages are also common in New Mexico DUI accidents. These damages seek to punish intoxicated drivers for their egregious behavior. 

Proving Dram Shop Laws in Your DWI Crash 

In order to seek additional damages from the server or bartender, you’ll need to prove that they knew or reasonably should have known that the driver was intoxicated yet still served them alcohol anyway. Your car accident attorney can help you collect the following evidence to further your case:

  • Testimony from other patrons at the bar or restaurant
  • Video camera footage
  • The driver’s blood-alcohol content
  • Evidence showing how long the driver was at the bar 
  • Expert testimony of a toxicologist if necessary

Seek Legal Counsel For Your DUI Accident

If there was alcohol involved in your car accident, work with an attorney who has extensive experience with New Mexico DUI accidents and can help you navigate dram shop laws. Contact FCHC Law today at (505) 243-6045 and tell us about your case.