Woman Charged for Serving Alcohol to Teen before Fatal Crash

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Motor Vehicle Accident on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In what is being called the first case of its kind in Missouri, a 46-year-old woman is being charged in connection with a fatal DUI accident involving an underage guest of the woman’s Halloween party. Prosecutors say the woman knowingly served alcohol to the guest, 19, and allowed him to drive away from her home despite knowing he was intoxicated. At question will be whether the woman’s serving of alcohol to the teenager was the “proximate cause” of the accident that took the life of a 16-year-old girl later that night.

The defendant hosted a party at her Kansas City home on Halloween night 2009. Among the guests at the party was a 19-year-old man. The Jackson County prosecutor said that the host personally mixed and served alcoholic drinks to the man despite knowing he was under age to drink in Missouri.

The man was intoxicated by the time he tried to drive home from the party. He struck another car and fatally injured the teen victim.

The prosecutor acknowledged that authorities in Missouri had never convicted someone who provided alcohol to the drunk driver in a fatal crash before, but said the level of criminal negligence allegedly committed by the woman made it necessary to make an exception. Though the defendant did not directly cause the accident, she was arguably the “proximate” or indirect cause by sending the driver into the streets while intoxicated.

Currently, Missouri civil law does not allow those injured in a drunk driving accident to sue alcohol providers for contributing to the accident. Other states do have “dram shop laws” under which bars, restaurants or party hosts can be potentially liable for the actions of drivers who became drunk at their location.

Source: ABC News, “Missouri Party Host Accused of Manslaughter in Teen’s Fatal Drunk Accident,” Alon Harish, June 26, 2012

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