Drunk-driving is a concern for all of us, not only those who are harmed in a crash or face criminal charges. It is in all of our interests to ensure our roadways are safe. One way the law seeks to put some of this responsibility on others is by establishing social host liability.
That responsibility has been a bit muted in Texas, where the law for many years was that social hosts are only liable for crashes caused by guests under the age of 18 who were served alcohol. In 2005, the age limit was upped to 21, with the requirement that the host knowingly provides alcohol or allows the minor to have alcohol. These rules, however, have been blurred a bit by court cases which have permitted lawsuits against hosts in certain situations involving adult guests who become intoxicated and harm themselves or another motorist.
Responsibility for drunk-driving charges, of course, always rests squarely on the shoulders of the drunk-driver himself or herself. Those who are charged with drunk-driving offenses need to understand their rights and the protections available to them.
It goes without saying that it is irresponsible to drive while intoxicated, but not every DUI case involves a driver who was clearly unable to operate his or her vehicle safely at the time of arrest. Officers on the lookout for drunk-drivers tend to notice the details that confirm their suspicions of intoxication while ignoring the things that suggest that the situation may not be as they assume it to be. In all of this, too, drunk-driving suspects have certain privacy protections against police searches and seizures.
Those facing drunk-driving offenses should do themselves a favor and consult with an experienced attorney. Doing so will ensure they receive the best possible advocacy in their case.
Source: News92FM, “Summer Cocktails? Texas Hosts Rarely Liable for Guests’ DWI Accidents, But That May Be Changing,” Scott Callahan, June 4, 2014.