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It’s Saturday night. Time to party. Driving to your job as bartender in downtown Cleveland, you sing along with the radio and amp yourself up to help throngs of people get wasted and have a great time.

When you arrive, though, you see several police cars and two totaled hulks of metal that apparently used to be cars. Inside the bar, a friend tells you that a guy left drunk, got into his car, and slammed into another vehicle, killing himself and the other person. You notice the look on her face as she tells you she served him his last drink.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s website, someone is involved in an alcohol-related crash every minute. Every 50 minutes, someone will die in an alcohol-related accident.

Here in Ohio, the number of people killed in an alcohol-caused crash dropped dramatically between 1982 and 2009, according to Out of 1,607 traffic fatalities in 1982, 966 involved at least one driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist with a Blood Alcohol Concentration over the legal limit. Out of 1,021 traffic fatalities in 2009, 378 involved someone under the influence.

Unfortunately, that number’s been on the uptick since 2010. The Columbus Dispatch reported today that while DUI-related deaths have decreased across the country, they’ve increased in Ohio by 5 percent when looking at federal numbers, and 10 percent when looking at state stats. So far this year, state troopers have cited 22,474 drivers for drunk driving. Nearly 150,000 Ohioans have been convicted of drunken driving three or more times.

State highway patrol officers often set up DUI checkpoints on major holidays – or major drinking holidays like Cinco de Mayo – but bartenders have a responsibility to get people home safe, too. In 42 states, including Ohio, dram shop liability laws hold the person who served or sold alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person liable for injuries that person causes.

“When a bar or restaurant shirks its responsibility to cut off an obviously drunk patron, the danger to you and your family is grave as soon as the patron leaves,” says Spangenberg Law Firm attorney Rhonda Debevec.

If you have been hurt by drunk driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the business who overserved the customer. Contact an experienced dram shop attorney today to find out if you have a case.

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