What is New Mexico’s Dram Shop Law?

Posted by Legal Team | 07/19/22 | Car Accident, Dram Shop Law

A dram shop law holds a business or, in some circumstances, a social host liable for serving or selling alcohol to intoxicated persons or minors who cause death, injury, or property damage to another.  Most states have dram shop laws, including New Mexico.

New Mexico’s dram shop law is found in Section 41-11-1 of the New Mexico Statutes Annotated.  This statute permits an injured person to hold a licensed alcohol vendor responsible for selling or serving a reasonably apparent intoxicated person alcohol under certain conditions.

These conditions are as follows:

  • The vendor provided alcohol to the drunk driver;
  • The drunk driver’s intoxication was reasonably apparent; or
  • The vendor otherwise knew the person consuming alcohol was intoxicated; or
  • The vendor knew the drunk person was going to get more alcohol elsewhere; and
  • The vendor acted in a grossly negligent or reckless manner.

Proving an alcohol vendor or bar was reckless in continuing to serve a patron and that a patron’s intoxication was reasonably apparent could be an impossibility if not for the landmark case Gutierrez v. Meteor Monument.  In Gutierrez, a case resulting in a drunk driving death, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that circumstantial evidence is enough to prove reasonably apparent intoxication.

Proving Reasonably Apparent Intoxication

Proving reasonably apparent intoxication through circumstantial evidence in the courtroom requires well-reasoned and strategic legal planning.  According to the New Mexico Supreme Court, circumstantial evidence might include any of the following and more:

  • Witness testimony;
  • The drunk driver’s testimony;
  • The time the drunk driver spent at the bar or other alcohol vending establishment;
  • Any police observations at the accident scene;
  • The breathalyzer results;
  • The drunk driver’s routine and history; and
  • The time between the drunk driver’s leaving the bar and the accident.

Any damages awarded by a jury in a dram shop trial are capped or limited at $50,000 per person, with a maximum of $100,000 per accident for bodily injuries and $20,000 per accident for property damage.

Social Host Liability in New Mexico

New Mexico dram shop laws include social host liability.  This means that a social host or person giving a party can be liable for a third party’s injuries after over-serving an intoxicated guest.  New Mexico law states that an injured party can sue a social host if “alcoholic beverages were provided recklessly in disregard of the rights of others, including the social guest.”

Damages are capped at identical amounts for social hosts as alcohol vendors, with a maximum of $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident for bodily injuries and $20,000 per accident for property damage.

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New Mexico’s Statute of Limitations for Dram Shop Claims

Personal injury claims, including dram shop claims, must be filed in court within a specific timeframe in New Mexico called the statute of limitations.  With few exceptions, dram shop claims require filing within three years of the date of the accident.  

Always consult an experienced New Mexico personal injury attorney to ensure you meet any statute of limitations for a particular claim.

Contact an Experienced New Mexico Dram Shop Attorney Today

If a drunk driver injured you or your loved one, contact the New Mexico personal injury attorneys at Liles White.  It is imperative to begin evidence collection immediately if there is a dram shop claim in your case.  

Negligent alcohol vendors should be held responsible for continuing to serve and sell intoxicated persons, especially drivers alcohol.  Help stop this practice and protect other innocent people by speaking with a New Mexico dram shop attorney at Liles White about filing your claim today.