Last year I blogged about the Maryland Court of Appeals taking a look at the possible liability of a bar in relation to drunk driving accidents. In its ruling on that case, Warr v. JMGM Group, LLC, 433 Md. 170 (2013), the Court stated that this issue involved significant public policy issues that would be better looked at by the legislature.
Well, it seems that someone in Annapolis was listening. One of the major issues being taken up by the Maryland legislature in 2014 is the issue of “Dram Shop” liability.
This is a tough line to walk in terms of making a public policy law. Where does the line of individual responsibility end? If a drunk driver, who obviously has impaired judgement by virtue of being a drunk driver, injures or kills someone, should we draw the line at that person and say that they alone are responsible for their behavior? Or, if a seller of alcohol serves alcohol to a person who they know is driving and is already intoxicated, should that seller be responsible for the actions of the driver that they helped to get more intoxicated?
The Court of Appeals basically said that the current law does not put any responsibility on the bar owners and it wasn’t for them to change the law. Now, if the Maryland legislature does in fact take this issue up, where will they decide the responsibility ends? Only time will tell.