You don’t see a lot of news articles on social host laws in Canada, and that’s because bars, nightclubs, and restaurants take special care to ensure their customers drink responsibly and find an appropriate ride home if it appears it’s needed. By taking these steps and watching over their customers, the business can avoid lawsuits that may find them liable if someone does drink, drive, and crash or kill someone else.
But that special care doesn’t save all businesses from having to go through law suits because of these social host laws and regulations, and now one Vancouver pub has been named and assigned partial blame in a drunk driving crash that could affect the outcomes of other lawsuits of this type.
The case in question involved a man walking home from work when he was hit by a truck. The driver of the truck had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .334 while driving, and he hit the pedestrian because he lost control. Prior to driving he had been drinking at the Cambie Bar & Grill, and when he left he went to his friend’s home where he continued drinking.
The crash left the pedestrian with brain damage and other severe injuries. The drunk driver was convicted for his crime and spent nine months in prison, but the case for damages has only been settled recently .
According to the ruling, the Vancouver pub is 25% liable for the crash and subsequent injury to the pedestrian who was hit. How is that possible? British Columbia social host laws require that any pub, restaurant, or bar has a duty not to over serve. If they do over serve, that establishment owes the patron what’s called a “duty of care.” The judge in the case doesn’t feel as though the pub followed through on their duty of care because he shouldn’t have been allowed to drive, and the server in question didn’t find him a safe ride home.
The drunk driver was found 75% liable for damages, and although this case could go to appeal, it’s definitely an eye-opener as far as social host laws in Canada are concerned. Any business who serves alcohol may want to rethink their policies and keep a better eye out for potential drunk drivers.