Like 43 other states and the District of Columbia, Florida has what are known as “dram shop laws” in place. When someone is injured or killed in a DUI collision, normally, a lawsuit would be filed against the driver who drove drunk and caused the accident. However, states with dram shop laws allow for the injured person or family members to sue the establishment who provided the alcohol to the driver, especially if they continued serving alcohol after the individual was already intoxicated. Florida law stipulates that a person can sue an establishment only if they knowingly provided alcohol to a minor or to a person they knew was addicted to alcohol.
The Orlando Sentinel reports on a man sentenced to 10 years for a DUI crash that killed one man and injured a woman.
32-year-old Justin Spencer was traveling south on Dean Road on February 6th, 2016. Just before 1:30 a.m., Spencer made an illegal left turn into an intersection and caused a crash.
Just as Spencer was making the illegal left turn, 20-year-old Felipe Andres Medina and Vanessa Barbella were traveling north on Dean Road on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Spencer hit the couple, throwing them from the bike.
Spencer remained on the scene. According to deputies, Spencer appeared disheveled, had his zipper down, and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. A breathalyzer test put Spencer’s blood-alcohol level at .237%, very nearly 3 times the legal limit.
Barbella was seriously injured in the crash. Medina succumbed to his injuries after two days in the hospital.
Spencer pleaded no contest to DUI manslaughter and DUI with serious bodily injury. According to records, Spencer was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by 5 years of probation.
Barbella filed a wrongful death lawsuit against two restaurants for overserving alcohol to Spencer on the night of the crash.