Call Me, Irresponsible…

You and your friends go to the local bar to watch some hockey and drink some beer. You each have a couple and are having fun, laughing, cheering for your winning team. Suddenly the bar staff comes over, demands your car keys and tells you they have called a taxi and you have to leave. You are escorted off the premises.

Crazy? Not if the Ontario Liquor License Act enforcers have anything to say about it. They want to hold bar owners and bar staff responsible for your drinking.

  • Bar owners and staff can and have been charged if they have intoxicated people on the premises whether or not they served you the alcohol that made you intoxicated.
  • They’re not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages to anyone who appears to be intoxicated.
  • They are responsible if you hurt yourself while under the influence of alcohol on their premises or after you leave their premises – even if you were already drunk before you got there.
  • They are responsible for making sure you get home safely after you’ve been to their establishment.

“Intoxication” is a completely objective term, legally. There are, of course times when it’s obvious, but not always. I know plenty of quiet drunks who have enough experience that they can appear just a bit tipsy while completely blotto.

In a very high profile case, earlier this year, 3 employees and all 13 company officers and directors of the Port Carling, Ontario Lake Joseph Golf Club were charged with permitting drunkenness on the premises and for serving alcohol to someone who was intoxicated. Four young people left the place following an afternoon of golf and drinking. They got into a car, drove too fast, lost control, ran off the road into a tree and  flipped the car into Lake Joseph. Three of them, including the driver ended up dead.

Tim Mulcahy, the father of the driver, thinks the laws are ass-backwards. He thinks the focus should be on making driving laws tougher. For one thing, he found out after the fact that his son had already amassed several speeding tickets in the past. As a fairly new driver, why wasn’t his license suspended?

Mulcahy has also petitioned the provincial government to change the rules to state that only a blood alcohol level of zero is permitted while driving — especially for new drivers. He would also like to see it be more difficult and time consuming to get and keep a driver’s license in the first place. This isn’t a radical idea. For much of the world outside of North America it is far more difficult and costly to get and maintain a driver’s license.

All these wishy-washy terms like “drunkenness, intoxication and acceptable blood alcohol levels” obviously aren’t working.[1] And, pointing fingers at everyone but the idiots who insist on endangering their own lives and the lives of others by drinking and driving is very politically correct, but totally inane.

Are we going to charge the corner shop owner for selling cigarettes to a pregnant woman? McDonald’s for selling 2 Big Macs to the grossly obese guy? Axe for selling that hideous cologne that makes teenage boys targets for being pitched into the closest body of water?

Perhaps we need to stop being so silly about our alcohol laws and get a little less silly about our driving laws. And maybe, just maybe, start making people a little more responsible for their own actions.


[1] In 2006, in the US there were 13,470 fatalities in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver (BAC of .08 or higher). 16,005 people were killed in the United States in alcohol-related motor vehicle traffic crashes (BAC of .01 or higher). These numbers are very similar to statistics from 10 years ago — the ad campaigns don’t seem to be working. Canadian statistics are proportionally similar. Compare this to the approximately 10,000 alcohol-related traffic fatalities per year for the entire European Union.


36 responses to “Call Me, Irresponsible…

  1. Hearing laws like this really makes me angry. I worked in a restaurant for a year, so I know a thing or two about the current liquor laws, and the typical staff’s ability of judge what exactly is going on on the premises. The fact that the poor bartender, who was just doing their job, would be held legally responsible for what happens after their patrons leave really grands my gears.

    Obviously restaurant and bar staff should be responsible for limiting the amount of alcohol consumed by their patrons, but I feel they already do a good job of that. Nobody wants an obnoxious or sloppy drunk, and the staff will take measures to ensure that.

    That said, drinking and driving laws should definitely be stricter. The fact that their not just demonstrates our systems complete lack of focus on the actual cause of problems, and its inability to fix them.

    (P.S. I apologize if this incoherent. I’m up super early to register for courses. Awwww yeah.)

  2. I agree, its stupid that they are trying to hold everyone else responsible except the person who is doing the drinking. Bartenders and staff can’t baby everybody, particularly when their bars are packed.

    The only exception to this was an article I read about women who went to a popular tropical destination (I think it was Ibiza) and were practically force fed alcohol by bar owners and staff and many of these women ended up A) Sexually assaulted, B)Practically poisoned and C)Sleeping on the street.

  3. this is bullshit and will kill bar owners. you are allowed to drink at 19 for a reason – that is when you are deemed responsible enought to make your own decisions. like go to a bar and have a few pops. i really hate the litigious atmosphere created by all these attitudes.
    i’m a very quiet drunk and am sure i could be served drinks until the cows come home….no one would even suspect me of being drunk. is it going to be up to the poor overrun waitstaff to keep track of how many drinks I’ve had? What if a friend buys me some? What if I buy at the bar?
    I call bullshit. Let grownups be grownups.
    that being said, I haven’t seen one RIDE program since last summer. Maybe some more active work by the law would make people think twice.

  4. I feel bad for the kids who died, but this is not the solution. People who drink are responsible for their own actions. These kids were old enough to know better. This is just another example of people wanting to shirk responsibility for their own decisions. It’s totally unreasonable to expect bars to keep track of these things.

    And what do you do in a case where people have been to multiple bars? The server might have no idea the person has already been drinking.

    I also know people who are kind of hyper and exuberant when they go out to bars…people who might be suspected of being drunk before they’ve even had one drink. Will every bar need to own a breathalizer to determine if they can or cannot serve a drink?

  5. OK you’re irresponsible.
    That being said.
    Zero alcohol when driving. Easy to control for the drinker. If you had even 1 drink you can’t drive. Not 2 not 3 maybe, if you take 1 you are illegal for driving.
    Set up Ride stops outside bars where people are drinking and then driving away. Businesses call foul but exactly what are they arguing, that they should be allowed to serve booze to drivers.
    Bars and staff are in a conflict of interest. They make their money by selling you booze therefore they are somewhat responsible if they know you are driving and they are serving. They should have to provide transport, or confirm a DD driver etc. if they want to make money selling booze.

  6. Davis – Very true. We’re so uptight about drinking and so casual about driving. I think if alcohol wasn’t made such a big deal – like allowing a 16 year old to maybe have a glass of wine or beer with a meal and slowly introducing them to alcohol and responsible drinking and then waiting until they’re maybe 21 to let them learn to drive, then they won’t be quite as stupid about the two. We have the same ass-backwards laws about sex and nudity vs violence. All kinds of violence is okay for any age group, but god forbid they should see a booby in a movie.

    Hannah – Even in Ibiza… what does “practically” force fed mean? I remember spring breaks in Florida and they certainly encourage the girls to get drunk by giving them cheap or even free booze so they’ll enter the wet t-shirt contests and stupid girls gone wild shit. Unfortunately 18-year-olds are usually not experienced enough to know when to stop drinking before they totally lose their minds and self control. Also, some adults have the same problem. The line between victim and personal responsibility is wide and blurry sometimes.

    Meanie – Bar owners are certainly not happy for the reasons you mention. How do they know how many drinks you’ve had before you came in? Unless you’re obviously out of control, how do they know if you’re drunk or not? Why do they need to make sure you get home? In one case the bar staff did everything they could – escorted the couple outside, took their car keys, called a cab. They refused the cab, got obnoxious. They finally said they were walking home. Bar staff watched them until they tuned the corner down the block. When bar staff when back inside the couple came back, found the spare key to their car and drove home – crashing the car. The passenger died. They’re still holding the bar responsible.

    Mary Lynn – Even the father of the dead kid who was driving agrees it was totally the kid’s fault (if we’re still defining 21 as “kid”). In cases where people are obviously drunk – throwing up, fighting, being obnoxious – bar staff is going to toss the person out/cut them off anyway. But when they’re behaving themselves are they to be cut off anyway? And when does that happen? A guy who’s 6’6” is likely going to be able to consume a hell of a lot of alcohol and not be drunk – do staff just cut him off anyway after 4 beer because that would make most people intoxicated?

    Bandobra – In the EU it’s easier because public transportation is available and efficient. Unless you live in a large city here, there is no public transportation after 10 or 11 at night and it’s almost impossible to get a cab at bar closing time. That’s a HUGE problem right there. Designated drivers work sometimes, except people don’t always leave with the same group they came in with. It would be good if the DD got a free meal or free cover or free soft drinks all night, too instead of having to pay $5 for a coke. That would give people some incentive to be the DD (aside from not being the one who ends up in the alley with her skirt over her head for once). No other business owner is expected to have this much responsibility for their customer’s actions or expected to exercise such precise judgment between serving the customer and cutting them off when they “feel” they’ve had enough.

  7. Well put. Of all the crazy, localized, regional laws in every different state in *this* country, though, booze ones are the weirdest. And Connecticut is one of the weirdest states of all.

  8. Good points; good discussion you’ve got going here. My godson smashed up his mom’s car this weekend; single car accident. He got his brother to collect him and left the scene. OPP found the car about 4:00 am and went to the house but could not rouse anyone. So, godson is fined, loses points and is otherwise unscathed (until his mother gets home from looking after her mom out west).
    Needless to say, alcohol was involved. I would pull Mr Got-Away-with-it’s licence for a long, long time if he were mine.
    The culture in that household is that drinking too much is fun and makes fine stories.
    On the other hand, my kids object to me driving after having a glass of wine with dinner.
    Is there a happy medium somewhere?

  9. Unfortunately, when a person has had too much to drink they are in no position to realize they cannot drive safely.

    If the bar staff knows they have had more than a few drinks, they should cut them off and they should take their keys. I know this happens in some bars – the small ones, where the staff actually knows what is going on with some of the patrons. However, the staff just plain doesn’t have a clue if patrons go to the bar and buy for other people at their table, if the individual who has had “too much” to drink is, as you mention, a “quiet” drunk, or if the bar is understaffed and there is no way the waiters have time to focus on what state anyone is in.

    However, the bars are in the business of making money selling booze. There is clearly a conflict of interest and for this reason there must be some legal responsibility on their part for doing what they can to ensure their staff is adequately trained in identifying signs of intoxication and further is given the support of management when they feel they need to cut off drunks and take steps to ensure those drunks don’t stagger out to their cars and drive away. No way, however, should bar staff be dragged into court unless there is “clear” evidence that they were negligent in their actions with respect to an obvious drunk. Yes, it is a subjective judgement; but surely there can be some reasonableness test as to whether the establishment and it’s staff acted according to the laws.

    Yes, there should be zero alcohol levels allowed for new drivers, and there should be ride stations set up outside drinking establishments and at strategic corners on roads. But we know many people do not act intelligently or responsibly where alcohol is concerned. Can we really absolve bar owners from responsibility totally? Of course not.

    The LCBO has strict rules about selling alcohol to persons who are visibly drunk. They don’t do it. They don’t even sell it to a sober person who is accompanying the drunk because they know they are going to provide it to the drunk. And these are people who are, presumably, heading home (or to someone’s home) with the liquor they purchase. Why should bars be absolved of any responsibility?

    I guess this is a rant.

  10. It’s nice at the very least to see that the father can see through all the shit of these proposed laws, even through his grief. I applaud him! and send him my sympathies.

    0 blood alcohol for young / new drivers… HERE HERE but even when there is an allowable ‘acceptable’ level, I personally still think that being caught drunk driving (aka over the limit) should be an automatic termination of the license… permanently! I’d like to add and the car seized and sold and the funds given to the affected families, and in the case with no injured or dead then the money put towards better anti drinking and driving programs.

    Expecting the already over worked bar staff to have to police each and every patron of their establishment… COME ON! that’s completely unrealistic and utterly impossible to enforce. I’ve worked in a bar before and on a Sunday in the summer alone we (a staff 9) would see well over 1000-1200 patrons in the day. It just ain’t possible.

    In the end I find this an unbelievably ‘American’ concept that the guilty are entirely blameless and that it IS someone else’s fault. It’s disgusting. As time goes by people are becoming more and more irresponsible… more and more their actions are not their own… it sickens me.

  11. I just wanted to give my 0.02 regarding zero tolerance for new drivers. While I understand that the majority of new drivers are teens and that they aren’t (until they’re 19) legally allowed to drink anyway, I see this as discrimination. I know plenty of long-time drivers who don’t know their limits or who drive horribly even when sober.

    If it’s to be zero tolerance, make the law applicable to EVERYONE, regardless of how long one has had his or her license.

  12. Ellie – Yes. I find it very strange that a person is allowed to legally be in control of a vehicle, fight in a war, vote, get married and have kids years before they’re allowed to enjoy a beer on a hot summer afternoon.

    Mary G – I would object to you driving after a glass of wine with dinner, too. I don’t think there is a happy medium. You are impaired even after one glass of wine (and “glass” is a subjective term, too). It only takes one split second of inattention to be involved in an accident. It’s difficult enough at the best of times, you don’t need the added handicap of even marginally slowed reflexes. Your kids are very wise.

    Nancy – You make some good points. LCBO is in a much better position to judge drunkeness – they see their customers in bright light, one at a time. Even with that I’m postive they miss the experienced drunks and alcoholics who are able to seem perfectly fine for the 2 minutes it takes to buy another bottle. So, how do you train staff in a non-professional job (servers), in a place where you have high turnovers to know exactly when someone is too intoxicated to have any more and/or is unable to drive? I can go to a bar and down 3 shots in 2 minutes and be perfectly sober, leave the bar, get into my car and drive off. The alcohol will hit me somewhere in my travels and I kill a few people. Is the bar staff responsible for that? The fact that drinking and driving is bad is no secret. If you’re going to a bar and think you may be drinking why not take the responsibility to make alternate arrangements for getting home before you’re too stupid to make those arrangements? Why are we leaving such an important judgement to a busy, harried, minimum wage stranger?

    Kitty – Thanks for the insiders perspective. And I agree completely. We are entirely too stupid about our attitudes toward drinking and in our attitudes toward driving. Driving is not a god-given right, though it sure seems like it in North America where our entire infrastructure is created around the automobile. If we had more walkable cities and better, more efficient public transportation, bar drunks would at least have easy options on how to get home. Like I said before, unless you’re in a large city, your only choice is to drive or get a ride after a night of partying.. That being said, people really need to grow up and stop blaming everyone else for their troubles, too.

    LGS – I’m waiting for someone to come along with the “why are we blaming the vicitim” argument. It hasn’t happened yet, but the argument can be made, no?

    Meagan – I would agree with that completely. I guess the reason they’re discriminating against new drivers is that they’re the ones that are most frequently involved in alcohol-related traffic accidents by a huge, huge percentage.

  13. “No other business owner is expected to have this much responsibility for their customer’s actions or expected to exercise such precise judgment between serving the customer and cutting them off when they “feel” they’ve had enough.”
    That’s true but then there aren’t many other businesses that routinely incapacitate their clients and then send them out in cars causing death and mayhem for so many.

  14. I LIVE at .08
    XUP understands why.
    however – why not extend your reasoning bandobras to maybe banning all alcohol?
    You can drink yourself silly at home then go out.
    so that should be banned right?
    Or maybe better – just ban cars.
    They are the reason that people drink and drive – if you eliminate the driving part then you have the problem dealt with.

  15. I agree we can’t hang servers out to dry – hell, my daughter works as a server in several bars. My point is that we cannot absolve the owners of the establishments from some responsibility. Of course they can’t always (even often) tell what state a patron is in, of course there are sly drunks who don’t show their condition; but the bartenders and owners have a responsibility to carry out some due diligence, in trying to be aware and of making it clear to their staff that they do not want to serve inebriated people. They also have to stand behind their staff when the drunks complain. They can’t expect to make money from the sale of alcohol without recognizing the dangers.

    Nobody in their right mind thinks the drinker should be absolved of responsibility. Clearly they should be held accountable for their actions. Does that mean that we ignore the fact that in some cases servers knowingly serve drinks to intoxicated people, pocket the tips and think nothing of watching them stumble out the door to the parking lot? I don’t think so.

  16. Driving sober – or damned close to it – is basic common sense. And you cannot legislate common sense, try as one might.
    But you can very effectively control who obtains and retains their license to drive. I think Ontario has come a long way in doing this through the “pasing in” system that we have.
    When I got my license in ’78, I could have taken my Mom’s 1970 Cutlass Supreme (kickass 350, 4 barrel under the hood!) out of little ol’ Parry Sound – to the Gardiner Expressway. And as long as I was under 0.08, it would have been perfectly legal.
    Test drivers more frequently at the early and later stages of their lives. But don’t let we 40-somethings off the hook. Why not re-test at 30, 40 and 50. And then more often as we get into our 50’s.
    Or just ban booze. We could call it, uh, “prohibition”?
    OK. That’s just wrong. Sorry XUP.
    Oh – and due to an eye condition I was born with, driving drunk is not an option for me. After only a couple of beers I see double.
    Howz that for an incentive?

  17. Lola=Laura BTW

    Well, I have many experiences from many angles with this topic. I waited tables for years. N.C. enacted this law for establishments serving alcohol 20 plus years ago. I, as a waitress, stepped up my game, and cut off over-drinkers. It was not fulfilling, but it seemed necessary. I doubt I saved any lives, but I wasn’t sued.

    Also 20 plus years ago, I was having so much fun in a bar, I was cut off by the manager. Fine, but I’d actually had nothing to drink yet. I was (am) naturally exuberant. (obnoxious?).

    Also, 20 plus years ago, about 2 a.m., I managed to launch my car from the road onto a loading dock. The details were blurry even then. I’d had more than my share of white russians. A friend happened to be following us and spirited us away before the police arrived. I woke up with a broken nose and two black eyes. My room mate was fine, but the car was totaled and had to be winched off the dock.

    Personally I find it difficult, no matter how I skew the situation, to blame the bartenders for this fiasco.

  18. Nobody is saying the drinking drivers are not to blame. They are merely pointing out that there are businesses who make their money selling to people they know will be driving. They, along with the drunk drivers have some responsibility.
    Just last week a girl was convicted of murder because she persuaded her boyfriend to kill someone. What then of the bar that on purpose, sells to people they know will be driving afterward.
    In aviation the legal limit is zero alcohol. That doesn’t mean that no pilots ever fly drunk, hungover, whatever, but it does mean no pilots ever get into a plane thinking they might be legal when they are in fact not.
    It’s pretty easy. If you have alcohol in your system you are not as good at driving as you should be.
    As one who used to drink and drive a lot, I understand how easy it is to excuse yourself and believe you’re not “too bad” to drive home.
    As one who has given up this particular stupidity I wish everyone else would too.

  19. There has to be some level of responsibility on the part of the purveyor of booze to make sure that the product is used responsibly. If there’s not, then everyone who sells it has every reason to sell as much of it as they can to anyone who wants it – taking the money, and then washing their hands of the consequences.

  20. Bandobras – Bar owners don’t cause drunken driving fatalities – drunk drivers do. (to borrow and NRA slogan)

    Lebowski – The point, exactly. There are so many variables. What if you leave the bar and say you’re going to walk home and then go around the corner and get into your car. Are the bar staff actually supposed to follow you home?

    Nancy – With all due respect to your daughter – are servers qualified to make those judgments, especially when they’re run off their feet in a busy club or bar? In any case, I think most bar owner don’t want sloppy drunks on the premises anyway and are already doing what they can to avoid or eliminate that possibility, but they can’t catch everyone. And yet they’re held responsible, legally. We have 2 serious problems and they aren’t really being addressed by just slamming bar owners for everything. One: we, as a society, have a poor relationship with alcohol. We need to teach young people from an earlier age to drink responsibly and Two: we need to stop thinking of driving as a basic human right and treat it as the enormous responsibility that it is.

    Trashee – I read your blog today. I believe there were some drinking and driving adventures in there?? But you’re right, licenses should be more difficult to get AND to keep. And, I really don’t think kids in Europe who are introduced to alcohol at a much younger age have this “must get bombed” mentality. I could be wrong. I’m hoping Gila or Linda will pitch in here and correct me if I’m wrong.

    Laura – My goodness, what a colourful history you have. I hope you learned your lesson and that was the last time you drove under the influence? And your second scenario is equal to the beginning of my post. How much would it suck to have your evening cut short because of bar owner paranoia and because you happened to be an exuberant person without alcohol.

    Bandobras – Maybe the bar could collect keys from everyone as they enter the place and only give them back at the end of the night if they pass a breathalyzer? It’s not that the bar owners don’t have some responsibility; it’s deciding where their responsibility begins and ends. There are so many variables. Did you watch the thing on W5? The couple had too much to drink and the bar staff demanded their car keys, called them a cab and followed them outside. They got belligerent and obnoxious sent the cab away and said they’d walk. Bar staff watched them walk down the block and around the corner. Couple came back and used a spare key hidden in their car and drove off, had accident, killed the passenger. Mother of the passenger is suing the ass of the bar.

    Darrell – Is that just for booze or for all products? Because people like to abuse a hell of a lot of shit. Tobacco companies have been sued for causing lung cancer. There are murmurs of people trying to sue fast food joints for selling trans-fat loaded food. Gamblers are suing casinos because they mortgaged the family home for their addiction and the casinos let them. Business people have a product they want to sell to the public to make money. They present it as attractively as possible. The government licenses them to sell it and collects tons of money in taxes from it. People buy it. Bad shit happens and the government blames the businesses. People blame the businesses. Why are “people” not responsible for doing their own due diligence?

  21. Wow, who knew there would be so much controversy over this. We’re all responsible for ourselves. Time to deal with it. If you don’t buy booze in a bar you can buy it in the grocery or local convenience store. The person who sold it to you shouldn’t be responsible, YOU should. I loved the analogy with cigarettes, McDonald’s and Axe. LOL. Time to wake up and take care of ourselves.

  22. Remember that story in Ottawa (about 8 years go?). It was in the Citizen.

    Some woman SUED her company, because she got drunk at an office party, fell on her head, and suffered some permanent damage.

    Wah. Poor me. I’m a drunk dumb-ass. Gimme a huge settlement.

    Co-workers told her she had too much to drink. She ignored them. They even offered to drive her home or pay for a cab. She ignored them. In fact, she went out to a bar, AFTER the office party and still continued drinking.

    But she still wanted to sue her company. (Think she got away with it too, if I recall..some kind of partial settlement).

    THIS…is why me need to bring back more natural selection into our society. Some of these people should NOT be allowed to procreate.

  23. We were hit by a drunk driver. Our car was totalled, both daughters were with us and all grandchildren at that time. We had four bloody children laying on the grass. We took three ambulances to two different hospitals. The drunk driver refused care and died a week, to the day, later.

    I will say, that by the time we had gone to the third place in town, to call for help, get a motel, collect stuff from our car, buy shoes (which tend to fly off), etc. I almost jumped the desk to the fourth person who said to me, “We knew ole what’s-his-name would eventually do some damage.”

    I agree, I don’t see how bars can be held responsible for a drunks problem, or an idiot teens problem, but when everyone in a little town knows, it’s time to do something and it should be to take his license away. He had a kid, and the parent did not know, in his car who was in a coma for 24 hours.

    On a lighter note, maybe we can sue someone for AXE. That is more repugnant than the BO odor EMT was using it for.

  24. Laws like this are already in place where I live. When I waited tables, if you served a minor you and the bartender and the restaurant were held responsible and could be liable for charges. I knew a woman who went to prison for being an accomplice to a murder for buying alcohol for her minor cousin who went and beat a man to death while drunk.

    Ok, those are related to minors, but we do have laws about serving visibly intoxicated people. Recently around here, a young, legal to drink, girl died of alcohol poisoning on her birthday. The restaurants who served her and her friend who were with her were charged with crimes related to her death.

    If you get out of hand or sick in while drinking in a bar you will be thrown out. Seems to me you should be given some water and crackers and asked to sit back and sober up.

    I am not sure if that is just or if the laws actually solve or prevent anything. I mean, the bars are still the same, even after the smoking ban.

  25. I don’t understand why there is not a “drive a drunk home” volunteer movement. MADD is nationwide (are they in Canada?) and could easily coordinate this. That would be a big proactive step on their part, but no, they are far more interested in the punitive aspect of anything to do with drinking. It’s like that whole abstinence thing with sex. It won’t work with drinking either. Get with it MADD! Drive the people home instead of constantly trying to get tougher legislation. (And it could exist on donations alone because drunk people are pretty free with their money.)

  26. We all have a responsibility to act in a way that lifts humanity. Whether it’s not driving drunk, or preventing someone from driving drunk, or not serving a drunk, or looking after a drunk.

    I don’t think more litigation does anything but spread the blame around. It doesn’t really prevent drunk driving. I do understand that the intention is to help prevent establishments from plying drunks with drinks, but isn’t that still drunks wanting to be plied with drinks?

    Some things, like decency and compassion, can’t be legislated anyway.

    P.S. XUP, I’m not much of a drinker these days, but when I do have drinks, I’m not the driver.

  27. You had me at hockey and drinking beer!!!!

    Can’t you get in trouble if you are the host at a party and people are drinking as well?!?

    I remember my father saying years a go when my friends and I were all getting our licenses. He thought that it seemed like they just gave them out. He commented that really what should be done is that the actual license should be insured and NOT the vehicle. I thought it was horrible years a go, now it kinda’ makes sense!!

    Down here there’s an even bigger problem. When we first moved here we couldn’t get over the amount of DUI schools there were. These are the schools that you have to go through when you have a DUI. Thing is, they teach you what to do if you get caught in a DUI again…things that allow you to have a lesser charge!!

    On top of that, the culture down here is to get a car as soon as you get your license.

    Oh XUP!!!! I could go on and on and on and on…

  28. very true.

    i remember many times driving with my drunk father. it was a scary thing. but nothing could change his mind.

    of course this was when i was young. and the one time the cops did pull him over, we were escorted home by the neighbor whos house we were pulled over at and the cops just towed the car and basically told him not to do it again.

    didnt. stop. him.

  29. Mary G – Drinking is fun, and makes for fine stories… Drinking and driving is not fun and the stories make you look like a jackass. That’s your middle ground.

    Bandobras – There is a huge difference between convincing someone to kill someone and selling someone alcohol. The liability shouldn’t be on the person selling something to ensure that it is used legally. Why not hold the car dealerships responsible for sell drunk drivers cars. Or maybe the government for giving drunk drivers licences?

    I used to build houses, should I be responsible if someone turns it into a grow op? Should a librarian be responsible if I take out a book that has details on a murder and I use that information to kill someone? (or beat someone to death with a really big book?)

    When do people have to take responsibility for their own actions? If you can prove that a bar tender knowingly served an intoxicated person, and the bar tender knew that person was going to be driving, then there is some responsibility there. But I can’t imagine that that is the case in the majority of the situations

  30. i am all for people taking responsibility for their actions b/c my god in the heaven am i ever SICK of adults not doing that.

  31. It’s a scary world out there, especially when driving. In Texas, besides drunk drivers, I was afraid of making a driver angry because most of them had guns in their cars and wouldn’t think twice about using them.

  32. Charlene – Ha ha – Drinking and driving and taking responsibility… and you thought that wouldn’t lead to conflict and controversy? I agree with your analysis of the situation. The only difference with booze I guess is that your judgment gets skewed after the first few.

    Friar – See, now people like this shouldn’t be encouraged by even being taking seriously. They should have laughed at her when she brought this to court. People like this end up taking the fun out of everything. I’m sure that company has never had an office party since.

    Savanvleck – That’s awful, but all too common. Drunks keep driving, maybe getting a fine or a stern warning. What is the town supposed to do about this guy? Have an intervention? Steal his car? Where is law enforcement? (And ya, AXE – what’s in that stuff?)

    Missy – We have all these laws in place, too, but they’re adding more and cracking down. Just having someone in your bar who is intoxicated can get you a hefty fine or closed down – even if he came in off the street already drunk. Bar owners agree with your point about not throwing drunks out, but giving them coffee and food and waiting for them to sober up, but police think this is just a money-making tactic somehow and will still charge them for having a drunk on the premises.

    Geewits – You’ve hit the nail on the head for sure. It’s all very nice to keep slapping fines on bar owners, but that’s not going to stop people from drinking and being foolish with their cars. In most cases there is no other way for them to get home after a night out. Public transit sucks, cabs don’t want to deal with drunks and are mysteriously in short supply at the time bars let out and the drunk didn’t plan ahead to get a ride home from a sober friend. We do have some of these volunteer drivers, but I think they only appear on NYE or something.

    LoLa – Very true and I think most people are decent and will help someone out or stop them from driving while drunk. They did a thing on one of those newsy shows once where they planted a variety of different people acting drunk and trying to get into their car to see what passersby would do. They had a man, a woman and a woman with a child do the acting. In all cases several people stopped and tried to talk the drunk into giving up the car keys – they wouldn’t let them drive. The woman with the child got the most attention. People were far more insistent with her than with the other two. I don’t think it’s in any bar’s best interests to encourage drunks in their establishment. When someone looks like they’re going to puke or fall over or start a fight or something, they’re not going to give them another drink. But there are more instances where bar staff can’t be gauging their customers every second to see how far gone they are.

    Helen – I know. It’s the same here and you and your dad are absolutely right – it’s the driving, the extreme car culture, the handing out licenses left and right that are the real problems. I, for instance, have no business having a license. I got a summer job once and the boss wanted me to do errands and so insisted I get a license.. I started the job Monday morning and she drove me to the license place to do the written portion. She gave me her car for the rest of the week, so I practiced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening when I got home from work and went to do the driving test on Thursday morning. We drove around the block and I managed to parallel park for the first and last time ever in my life. I got my license. Don’t worry. I almost never drive. Only once in a while back home where I know my way around and never on the highway.

    Jobthingy – Crazy drunken bastard. If it was only themselves they were killing and maiming we could just let them get on with it. Too bad they keep taking innocent others along with them. And I believe DUIs still aren’t punished enough. Somehow the thought of taking away a person’s license or car is seen as equivalent to castrating them or something.

    MG – Too funny. There is always someone else to blame for pretty much everything that could possibly happen to you. And people always manage to find that someone. Bar owners are the easy targets here. They have their livelihoods on the line and I guess those in charge think they’re not a group worthy of sympathy because they’re in such an unpleasant business. The drunks themselves are too hard to pin down. That would require a lot of policing and enforcing and court and stuff. Too much work. Bar owners and staff are right there under your nose.

    Leah – Thanks Leah. I was wondering what your take on this would be.

    Linda – Oh, goody – a whole new dimension to the equation. Drunk drivers with guns!! Yikes. I was interested to hear what the situation on drinking and driving is like in France??

  33. UPDATE for those who care:
    The woman who sued the company she worked for for letting her drink and drive actually WON. believe it or not – the case was heard not far from me and I am well acquainted with the company (By the way she actually thought she should be able to keep her job as well – Some theory that she was not really suing the company but the company’s Insurance company – that makes it all good.)
    There was a bar in Fort Erie that was sued because a customer had provided fake I.D. from New York, drank himself silly after 3 or 4 beers, then went home to the states and cracked up his car.
    Of course the fascinating thing is that NOW bartenders and bouncers must be acquainted with I.D.’s of the world. (Part of the plaintiff’s reasoning is that the bar didn’t see that the I.D. was fake and that their ANGEL of a son wouldn’t really pass fake I.D. right???????)

  34. Lebowski – Thanks for the update.People are nuts. This woman probably had parents like the guy in your second paragraph. Of course I can understand that parents like this are angry and want to blame someone for their child’s death and they don’t want to blame the child because…well he’s dead and it’s not kosher to be mad at dead people. But everyone else involved has no excuse for not pointing the finger at exactly who really IS to blame and no one else.

    Noha – Yes.