Will Funeral Home Liquor Licenses Increase Drunk Driving?

pVariousDrinks(2)A decision by the Wheeling, Illinois Village Board created a new liquor license classification. The change will allow a local funeral home to serve alcoholic beverages to those attending funeral services on the premises. This is a first for the state of Illinois. It gives the funeral home pioneer status. It also generates new legal situations for a Wheeling car accident lawyer to monitor and assess. Bereaved friends and relatives will now be able to self-soothe with alcohol without having to leave the premises. While this new class of license may prove to be a social and financial win for the funeral home owners, it could create a new source of impaired drivers on Wheeling streets.

Funerals present a complex mix of grief, anxiety, and emotional turmoil that could easily spin out of control when alcohol is allowed to flow freely. While not all parties attending funerals will feel the need to ease these emotions by ordering a cocktail, the circumstances will make it easy if they do. Easy access to alcohol during a funeral could mean more DUI driving, more auto accidents, and more injuries and deaths. With a funeral home serving the alcohol, it will present new legal issues that may take years to resolve.

Impaired driving causes accidents

The Illinois Department of Transportation Crash Facts and Statistics report recaps vehicle crash circumstances and documents those accidents where alcohol was a contributing factor. In 2014, there were 845 auto accident fatalities in the state. Of those 30.4 percent were alcohol-related. The Illinois Secretary of State’s DUI Fact Book 2015  is another resource for information. Here are a few of the DUI facts in the brochure.

  • The Illinois Secretary of State documented 34,611 DUI arrests in 2013.
  • After a single drink, alcohol can affect coordination and judgment.
  • When a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content reaches .04, his or her chances for an auto accident increases.
  • At .06 BAC an impaired driver is twice as likely to be in a fatal crash as a sober driver.
  • A small person (137 pounds) reaches .04 BAC after only 2 drinks.

Accidents cause injuries

Funeral home liquor service presents a new standard in social drinking. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be more alcohol-impaired drivers in the streets of Wheeling. Only time will tell if the change will cause more auto accidents. The fact that a funeral home now presents an opportunity for alcohol consumption where no opportunity previously existed makes the practice a reason for added caution. The change brings with it an increased potential for injury.

DUI accident fatalities are a big concern, but injuries are also a problem. In Cook county alone, drivers and passengers sustained 3,223 alcohol related auto accident injuries in 2014. Accident-related injuries can be simple cases needing only ER treatment. They can also be traumatic conditions that result in a lifetime of financial and personal complications. Injured parties must bear the burden of medical bills, medication, lost wages, reduced ability to earn, and permanent disabilities. Overcoming these obstacles and getting the benefits an injured party deserves may require the ongoing services of a Wheeling car accident lawyer and may also involve presenting the case in court.

Illinois Dram Shop laws

Although funeral home liquor licenses are a new concept, they should be covered by existing Illinois Dram Shop laws. The statutes give an injured or damaged party the right to make a personal injury claim that’s separate from the claim made against the negligent driver that caused the accident.

While the original Dram Shop law has been amended over time, the basic intent was to hold businesses that sell and serve liquor responsible for injuries caused by serving alcohol to intoxicated persons, minors, legally disabled persons and others. Dram Shop issues can be difficult to understand, but a Wheeling car accident lawyer can help an injured party sort through the complications.

100 Drunkest Towns in Illinois

Wheeling is a small village, but it cataloged another recent liquor milestone. Roadsnacks.com named Wheeling number 27 on its list of 100 Drunkest Towns in Illinois. While the designation was mostly for entertainment, the drafters of the list calculated their findings based on per capita wineries, bars, and liquor stores, and also included divorce statistics and social media factors. Funeral home liquor licenses were not considered, but they could affect future findings.

Serving liquor increases legal liability

Illinois’s first funeral home liquor license is a done deal. If it’s successful, there is a good chance that other funeral homes will choose the same path. It’s even more important for those who are injured in an auto crash to learn all of the details. If the driver who caused the accident was driving while impaired, the Wheeling car accident lawyer that handles the case may have the right to collect damages based on auto liability and legal liabilities associated with businesses that serve alcohol.

Does Your case Have Merit?

When you contact Orzoff Law Offices, you will receive a free initial consultation to answer your questions and focus on your goals. Call 847-564-0285 or send us an email using our quick contact form.

captcha