DUI Liability in Florida Bars and Restaurants

By: Tom DeLattre

DUI Liability for Florida Bars and Restaurants

In a previous blog post, we explored and examined some aspects of Florida’s bar and restaurant liability laws in DUI cases. Unfortunately, there are still many questions in this complex area of law that remain unknown to the general public. For instance, let’s assume a business establishment did not sell alcohol to a minor and cannot be successfully proven to have served alcohol to an alcoholic. Is the business responsible for preventing a customer from driving if they are clearly intoxicated? Again, the answer appears to be, “no.”

In one instance, a Florida court allowed an alcohol-related case to proceed to trial against Disney, but the facts in this case are quite unique. A Disney security guard ordered an intoxicated Disney employee to leave a Disney-sponsored party that was taking place on Disney property. The employee made it very clear that he was too drunk to drive. Despite this, the security guard ordered the employee to move the car and leave the premises. The guard also threatened to have the employee arrested if he did not cooperate. The employee then drove away and almost immediately struck a light pole and suffered injuries.

A very recent case against a beach bar was decided in favor of the bar, finding it was not responsible once the intoxicated customer left their premises. Again, in this case, there were no facts to support that any employees forced the customer to get in the driver’s seat and drive away.

Unfortunately, the general rule is that Florida bars and restaurants can order patrons to leave their premises but are not responsible for the individual once they leave. The Florida legislature has also barred or prevented this theory of recovery against business establishments as well. This is very frustrating, especially because bars and taverns often advertise extreme drink specials and promote excessive drinking.

If it cannot be proven that the establishment knowingly, willfully and unlawfully sold alcohol to a minor or alcoholic, it appears that the only way an establishment would be responsible would if you have facts similar to the Disney case. The business establishment forced a customer to not only leave, but forced him to get behind the wheel of an automobile and drive away. Additional facts also need to be considered, including the amount of time that goes by between leaving the establishment and the accident, and the distance traveled.

This is can be a very complicated and confusing area of the law. Our firm is experienced to handle cases against business establishments and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you, your loved ones, or friends have any questions regarding personal injury, do not hesitate to contact us to speak to an accident lawyer at (407) 841-7699. For additional resources, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for helpful hints and to always be informed about best practices when it comes to personal injury


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