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No Gas for Drunk Drivers!

Check this out. "New Mexico Supreme Court rules gas stations can be liable for DUIs" Oh, and New Mexico is not the first state to do this. Tennessee was the first in what they call a "Duty to Care" Here's how it works, lets say a clerk sees someone who may be impaired attempting to fill up the vehicle they are driving. The clerk would have a "Duty" to prevent the sale and call 911. This is to help protect our community from dangerous and potentially deadly drivers. Perhaps the impairment isn't caused by alcohol or drugs, it could be a medical situation and a call to 911 could save someone's life.

Yep, I already hear the internet trolls saying, "So I work at a gas station, and I want to know if I'm supposed to run out to the pump and perform a field sobriety test or have a customer say the alphabet backward; before I sell them gas?" In fact, most gas stations likely already have some sort of policy for this situation in place. The law just helps to highlight the life saving importance of us all woking together to prevent impaired driving and stresses the importance of not turning a blind eye to a potentially deadly situation.

I'll compare it to people who sell alcohol here in Montana and most states. It's illegal to sell alcohol to any person who is actually, apparently, or obviously intoxicated (MCA 16-3-301 (4)(b)). If a server sells alcohol to someone who is actually, apparently, or obviously intoxicated...not only can the establishment they work for be held liable, but they can also be personally liable if that person kills someone in a DUI.

You might be asking yourself, well, isn't that why many people head out the bars, to get drunk? Well, that may be the case, but all servers of alcoholic beverages here in Montana must go through Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service (RASS) training within 60 days of being hired and then every three years afterward (MCA 16-4-1005). This is to prevent over service.

Here in Montana, the RASS class is titled "Your Community Matters," and it's about making a reasonable effort to prevent the sales of alcoholic beverages to people under the age of 21 and to people who are actually, apparently, or obviously intoxicated. During the course, we show the following video to emphasize the importance of caring for our community. We don't know if this guy is "Drunk," although he is obviously impaired, but it could be a result of a medical emergency that he is experiencing. We talk about the importance of calling 911 in this case, as it might actually save his life or someone else. The title of the video is "Funny - Drunk guy in Convenience store hillarious!!!" but it's not so funny if you learn that this guy is the state's "Teacher of the Year" and he in the middle of a life-threatening diabetic emergency. I just made that part up, but you just now physically felt how serious a situation like this might be. Why wouldn't we call 911?

It's not much different selling gas. If you are working at a gas station and before you authorize a gas pump, you notice that the driver fell down or is somehow obviously impaired. I would suspect that you wouldn't just let them buy gas and drive off. You would call 911. Maybe they are drunk, but perhaps it is a medical condition. Either way, you would be helping protect your community because "Your Community Matters." Make sense?

To learn more about the Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training, check it out here on

Thank you and Drive Safe Missoula

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