In September 2013, two bicyclists were killed in a car accident on Memorial Causeway.
On May 7, 2014 tampabay.com reported that the driver in this accident pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving death and is expected to be sentenced later this month. The report also includes surveillance video that shows the driver consuming large amounts of alcohol at the hotel bar where he works, shortly before the fatal accident that morning. The video is expected to be used as evidence in a civil lawsuit against the hotel.
According to Florida law, the hotel may be considered liable for injuries or damages caused by the intoxicated driver. Because the driver worked at their establishment, it seems reasonable to assume they would be aware of his normal drinking habits. Furthermore, they should not have allowed him to consume alcohol after the bar closed.
The family of one of the victims is pursuing a lawsuit against the hotel claiming they should not have served the driver alcohol. This is not the first alcohol-related lawsuit against the hotel.
Sadly, alcohol-related accidents and deaths are common in Florida. According to the most recent data, there were 17,258 alcohol related/suspected crashes in 2012. There were also 877 fatalities.
Ultimately, car accidents involving alcohol are preventable. And if establishments that serve alcohol become more vigilant about not serving patrons known to be habitual drinkers, perhaps lives can be saved.
*Statistics based on the 2012 Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.