Published on:

Court Rules in Husband and Wife DWI Case


This legal action is filed against a restaurant by a husband who seeks to recover damages for injuries he sustained in a vehicular accident. His wife was driving while intoxicated and lost control of the vehicle. He claimed that the restaurant violated a general obligation law because his wife’s intoxication resulted from the restaurant’s serving the alcoholic drink, according to a New York Criminal Lawyer.

The restaurant move for a legal action to terminate the complaint filed to them on the ground that the husband purchased the alcoholic beverages for his wife and thus has no cause of action against them based on a violation of the general obligation law. In support of their action, the restaurant relied on the statement and testimony of the couple.

According to a New York Criminal Lawyer, at around 10 to 10:30 p.m., the couple consumed a bottle of beer from another restaurant then went home. Afterwards, the couple then went to the restaurant which they summoned. The couple arrived at approximately 11:00 p.m. The husband bought beers for his wife and they both drank at least four to five bottles of it. They left the said restaurant at about 1:30 a.m. and the wife was the one driving the vehicle. As they were proceeding north, the car went out of control, crossed over to the opposite bound lane and jumped on a guard rail. The husband sustained serious injuries in the accident.

The couple submitted their affidavits in opposition to the action. They explained that when they stated the testimony that the husband bought the beer for his wife it was meant only in the sense that he supplied the money for the purchase because the money was in his pocket, but the money which he earns is shared equally by them and they file a joint income tax return. During the course of the evening, either of them would go to the bar to place orders for their beers and the husband never purchased drinks for his wife unless she asked for them.

The couple opposes on two grounds. The first argument states that, to impede the husband from recovery under the general obligation law would be an unparalleled extension of the concept of procuring alcoholic beverages and would leave husbands and wives unprotected by that law. They contend that both public policy and law treat a married couple as a single entity and that marriage entity bought and paid for the beer. They also claim that there is a factual issue as to whether the husband bought the alcoholic beverages for his wife.

According to the couple, because of their status as married, they were drinking companions and from time to time they go out to socialize and have a few beers together as they did on the night of the accident. They frame the issue on the motion as whether a husband can be considered the procurer of alcohol for his wife when his wife requests the alcoholic beverages and places some of the orders for the alcoholic beverages herself, and joint income is used for their purchase.

A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said it is well settled that a person who procured the alcoholic beverage for the person whose intoxication allegedly caused his injury has no cognizable cause of action based upon a violation of the general obligation law. It is sufficient that the plaintiff merely contributed to the purchase of the alcoholic beverages which caused the person’s intoxication.

Since the plaintiff’s own affidavits establish that during the course of the evening, the husband placed at least some of the orders for his wife’s drinks and provided funds in which he had an interest for the purchase, he played a more affirmative role than that of mere drinking companion to his wife. The court finds that the husband procured the alcoholic beverages and accordingly, the general obligation law cannot be maintained.

The Plaintiff further argues that the case law which precludes damage recovery to one who procures the alcoholic beverage should not apply to a married couple. Under the plaintiff’s analysis, a spouse would have to coerce his or her partner into drinking in order to be regarded as a procurer of alcoholic beverages for the intoxicated partner and be denied relief under the law. Such a result would carve out an exception for married a couple which has no legal basis. Whether a person procured alcoholic beverages for another must be decided without regard to a person’s marital status. A person who does not procure alcoholic beverages for his spouse is protected by the law; one who does is not.

Since the husband’s cause of action cannot be maintained, the wife’s derivative action must also be dismissed.

A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer commented that tragic things can happen merely because someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When you are caught in this kind of circumstances and you feel the need for legal advice, speak to at Stephen Bilkis & Associates is always ready and prepared to respond to your legal related demands.

Contact Information