Ten years ago on May 3, 2002, Timothy Beauregard, then aged 31, pulled out of a restaurant in Westerly, RI in a state of intoxication and rammed his Oldsmobile into Daniel Ernst. As a result of the accident, Ernst was paralyzed from the chest down.
Beauregard paid heavily for his negligence. In 2006, a jury made him and the restaurant that served him all the drinks pay a total of $15.2 million – one of the biggest drunk driving accident awards in the state's history.
The restaurant was held liable for 25 percent of the claim because a bartender had served Beauregard drinks first in the afternoon and then again in the evening. In between, Beauregard went home and consumed more alcoholic drinks. All put together, he had around 10-12 drinks on the day in question.
When he exited the restaurant, he was quite openly intoxicated so the restaurant had to take partial blame in the civil lawsuit. Officially, their liquor license was suspended for 2 days.
Beauregard's driving license was also revoked for 2 years, he was made to undergo substance abuse counseling and pay a fine. On top of that, the judge piled on with a 10 year suspended prison sentence, 10 years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.
Justice served? You would think so, but fast forward six more years to Jan 21, 2012 and the now 40-year old Beauregard crashed his car into a tree and got charged with a DUI, showing that he had learned absolutely nothing from the accident 10 years ago.
This time, nobody else was involved so he managed to skate by and tweak the system. The police charge was modified from a DUI to reckless driving. If not, the second DUI would have triggered the suspended jail term and Beauregard would have landed up in prison. But that didn't happen and Beauregard walked out of this second incident a free man. Daniel Ernst is still in a wheel chair.
Did you know?
Restaurants serving an intoxicated patron more alcohol can be held liable for drunk driving accidents.
The "dram shop laws" in 43 states make it possible to include a restaurant or bar as a defendant in personal injury claims if an accident occurs after an intoxicated customer is served more drinks.