Pubs may become responsible for drinkers' damages

The pending anti-smoking law also holds establishments responsible for patrons' actions

The pending anti-smoking law that applies to restaurants and pubs also makes establishments that serve alcohol responsible for what intoxicated people do after they leave the establishment, such as causing injury to another person or damaging property.

The draft law has been approved by the lower house of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, but still needs approval of the Senate and president. If approved, the law will take effect May 31, 2017. For violating the law regarding damages by a patron after they leave, an establishment could be fined Kč 50,000 and the server Kč 10,000.

The stipulation would require people serving alcohol to stop serving someone who is intoxicated if they are likely to get behind the wheel of a car and cause an accident or do something else that causes damage or injury.

Legal experts point out that determining if someone is highly intoxicated can be difficult, as a person may have already consumed alcohol before going to a bar or restaurant. Also, different people have different levels of tolerance and different reactions to alcohol.

The Czech Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHR ČR) says the section of the law that shifts responsibility is nonsensical, as bartenders have no way of knowing what a person is going to do in the future. The AHR ČR points out that draft law also does not give any guidelines for how a server or establishment should determine if someone is likely to cause damage.

The Czech Ministry of Health, which is behind the draft law, says that a similar requirement has been in effect since 1990, and that there is only a minor change. The current law holds an establishment responsible if the establishment knows that a person is intoxicated and could cause damage. The new wording says that an establishment is responsible if the person consuming alcohol can be reasonably expected to cause damage. The difference is that the requirement of certain knowledge has been replaced with reasonable expectation.

The AHR ČR says that the new law will make some restaurants and bars reluctant to pour even one beer, as authorities can come back to them and hold them responsible for what the customer has done. The trade association will be asking the Senate to not approve the law in its current form because of this. If the law passes, then the association says it looks forward to challenging it in court.

Servers and bartenders have limited options for determining if someone is intoxicated, and cannot for example give a breath test before serving a drink. The only option is to not serve someone if there is any doubt, opponents of the law state.

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