Areli Joyner Killed, Mark Garren Hurt in McKinney, TX, Accident
McKinney, TX -- January 8, 2017, Areli Joyner was killed, Mark Garren injured, in an accident where alleged drunk driver Mackenzie Chesney hit their car.
McKinney Police officials have not released all of the details surrounding this accident. They say it took place around 6:00 a.m. near the intersection of US 75 and Bois D Arc road.
Their reports allege that 24-year-old Chesney was driving while intoxicated along US 75. As she did so, her vehicle crashed into another car carry 31-year-old Joyner and 25-year-old Garren.
As a result of the collision, Joyner died at the scene. Garren was taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries. Chesney was found to be intoxicated by authorities, and she was arrested on charges of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault.
At this time, authorities have not released any additional details.
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It's truly awful to see yet another life taken due to someone's reckless actions. If police reports are accurate, then the fact this accident happened at 6:00 a.m. tells me one of two things: either the drunk driver was at a party until very early in the morning, or she drank so much at a bar that she was still intoxicated hours after the bar closed. If the latter of these is true, then there are two entities that need to be held responsible: the drunk driver and the bar that served her. For the former, we have criminal law. For the latter, we have what is called dram shop law.
In Texas, dram shop law states that any business which over-serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated customer can be held liable for damages resulting from that person's intoxication. What this basically means is that if a licensed alcohol seller serves alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated, and that person goes out and hurts someone due to being intoxicated, then victims can seek compensation from that business.
This area of the law has sometimes been controversial because people tend to see it as someone drinking a beer or two, hitting a pole, and then suing the bar for their broken leg. The reality is that most dram shop cases our firm handles involve a business that served a customer upward of 10 drinks before letting them get behind the wheel of a car.
They also believe that dram shop law takes accountability away from the drunk driver and places it on the bar which is just trying to do business. While some see this as "just doing business," our civil laws recognize that bars and other businesses selling alcohol are often the last line of defense between a drunk driver and the gernal public. For this reason, they recognize that over-serving customers is an irresponsible and dangerous behavior that deserves to be directly addressed.
When a business illegally over-serves alcohol to their customers, they are directly contributing to any harm that happens as a result of that person's intoxication. Our community holds these businesses to the standard that they should be able to recognize the signs of an intoxicated person and avoid serving them any more alcohol. By failing to do this, they are breaking the law.
So while some people see dram shop law claims as holding bars responsible for a drunk driver's actions, they actually hold irresponsible businesses accountable for their own negligent actions. The whole reason we punish drunk drivers as a society is to see justice done. Is it really justice when a family grieves for a lost loved one, a driver gets put in jail, and a bar skips off counting all the money it made from serving the drunk driver? The fact of the matter is that negligence must have consequences. By allowing victims and their families to pursue compensation from these businesses, Texas dram shop law provides a system in which negligent alcohol vendors are brought to justice for their contributions to these tragic accidents.
--Grossman Law Offices