Drink driving

Licensees urged to prevent customers drink-driving

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Customers drink-driving from pubs

Related tags Common sense Automobile Invitee Steve haslam

Licensing legal specialist Poppleston Allen has urged licensees to prevent customers from getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking.

They explained common sense would dictate that if a licensee knows a customer is drinking and then getting behind the wheel, they should prevent them from doing so.

Case study

While there doesn’t seem to have been any case studies in the UK of a pub being held responsible for a customer drink driving, there was a case in Ireland.

Poppleston Allen reported in 2011 that a customer got behind the wheel after drinking six pints in the Diamond Bar in Tullaghan, Co Leitrim before being involved in an accident in which he died, as did the female driver of another vehicle.

A second female was seriously injured in the accident and settled a damages case against the driver’s estate for €275,000. The estate tried to recover some of the money from the owners of the bar, claiming duty of care.

The judge in the Irish high court said that "the duty of care being suggested could include an obligation on publicans to restrain, assault or even imprison those they believe to be unfit to drive. That would result in publicans committing a criminal act and is not something any court could contemplate."


Michelle Abbott from the Anchor Inn in Wingham, Kent said she occasionally phones customers a taxi to stop them from driving after they have been sinking pints.

She said: “We are in a village so it is quite handy and people do walk but I phone a taxi for customers if I can and I’ve got a couple of local taxi companies I use. There's a young lad around the corner who doesn’t drink, so if we get really stuck I sometimes ask him.

“If someone had been drinking and was going to get in their car, I would ask them if I could order them a taxi and say, ‘It probably isn’t best to drive as you’ve had a few pints’. You tend to use your common sense and if someone has had too much, I won’t serve them. We are absolutely fine with customers leaving their car here overnight.”

Licensee Steve Haslam from the Cutter Inn, Ely, Cambridgeshire said dealing with the whole situation was “difficult”.

He added: “If we think it is going to happen, we suggest the customer leaves their car here and call them a cab. If they refuse, it is beyond your control.

“We would certainly stop serving anyone who'd had too much to drink, and do everything we could to avoid them getting into their cars. We will go into overdrive if we think something isn’t right."

Related topics Legislation

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