DUI victim advocate groups say Dram Shop law needed in Nevada - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

DUI victim advocate groups say Dram Shop law needed in Nevada

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The most recent DUI-related accident involving a woman who left Arizona Charlie's on Thursday, leaving eight people injured, has DUI victim advocate groups on high alert.

Sandy Heverly with Stop DUI says beyond the responsibility of having a designated driver, the responsibility of someone who is intoxicated leaving a restaurant, casino or tavern should fall on the person who is serving them.

"Our organization has always supported the notion of a Dram Shop law," Heverly said. "We've always viewed as being a shared responsibility."

The Dram Shop law or third-party responsibility is currently implemented in 42 states across the nation; however Nevada is one of eight where this law doesn't exist.

Dram Shop would allow a victim of a DUI-related accident to file a civil suit against a server or bartender who continued to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person who subsequently wrecked because of intoxication.

In 30 years, Heverly has worked with thousands of DUI victims and says more accountability is needed for those serving alcohol.

"What it actually does is it creates a conscience for those who are serving the alcohol," Heverly said.

Statewide, Nevada Highway Patrol reported that last year there were 66 DUI-related deaths, and to date in 2013 there have been 36.  

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Clark County, says he's witnessed both sides of the argument in the Nevada Legislature. To him, it's something that is needed in the state.

"I don't want to go after the bartenders and the servers, but at some point, they have to realize there's a limit. ... Stop," Hambrick said.

Hambrick believes part of the reason it hasn't become law is not enough awareness in other parts of the state. With two-thirds of the population in southern Nevada, he says it's a widespread concern that begins with a change in the way people think about living in a 24-hour city.

"We have to have a ripple effect on this, not just the servers and bartenders, but drunk driving or driving impaired is a community issue," Hambrick said. "It's a public policy issue, and we all have to address it."

Heverly says she will consider bringing this legislation up during the next session in 2015. However, she believes collaborating with the large resort and tavern associations could help alleviate restaurant and casino employees from serving alcohol to intoxicated persons.  

She believes it begins with education and employers reminding their employees about the  dangers of serving alcohol to someone who is over the limit.

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