Last September a Chevrolet driven by a man named Robert Kite flew off an elevated highway ramp onto the road about 300 feet below. Robert Kite, a father of six, was killed instantly. Since his blood alcohol level was 3 times the legal limit, the North Carolina ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Commission looked into the situation. It turned out he had ordered 17 shots of bourbon in the 4 hours before driving.
The bar where Kite did his drinking, the Wild Wing Café in Aynsley, had offered to pay a $1,000 fine. The ABC Commission rejected the settlement in light of the revelation that the bar had served Kite 17 shots.
The bar claims that Kite did not drink all 17 shots of Maker’s Mark bourbon – they were just on the bill together. But the ABC notes that no one else was drinking that brand of liquor.
North Carolina Dram Shop Laws
Dram shop law is the term used for laws which determine a commercial establishment’s liability when someone drinks and causes harm. North Carolina is among the US states which have a dram shop law. The law prohibits the saleIt states that it is unlawful to sell alcohol to an intoxicated person. North Carolina laws allow a bar to be held liable if it serves alcohol to a customer who is visibly intoxicated and who then injured or kills someone in a collision.
According to North Carolina dram shop laws, then, the onus is on the server This opens up another question: to what lengths should a server go to in order to ensure that a customer is not drunk?
The $1,000 settlement will not fly, so the ABC will try to negotiate another one with Wild Wing Café, and this one will involve a higher penalty. How high can and should that penalty go?