A 17-year-old Texas boy is facing criminal charges for an alleged drunk driving accident that left two female passengers dead last week. Jagger Smith appeared in court last week on July 26 and was charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter. According to prosecutors, the teen admitted to drinking an entire bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 before getting behind the wheel of his car the night the girls were killed. Witnesses say that Jagger was traveling at 70 to 80 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone on Timber Forest Drive at around 12:30 a.m. when he lost control and struck several trees. His vehicle was split in half during the accident. Atascocita High School students Chloe Robison and Salma Gomez were killed in the accident.
Investigators with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are currently attempting to trace where Smith got his alcohol from. The teen is currently out on bond and must return to court in September.
Legal contributor and crime victim lawyer Marc Lenahan gave us some thoughts on third-party liability in drunk driving accidents:
In Texas, dram shop and social host liability laws allow third parties to be held liable for giving alcohol to visibly drunk or underage individuals who end up driving drunk and causing an accident. According to the dram shop law, alcohol vendors who sell or give alcohol to obviously intoxicated individuals or minors under 18 can be sued if that individual causes an accident and injures someone else. The social host liability law says that anyone over age 21 who gives or sells alcohol to a minor (such as at a house party), can also be sued if that minor drives drunk and causes an accident.
These laws demand accountability from the businesses and individuals who could have done more to prevent a drunk driving accident. Injury victims and the families of fatal drunk driving accident victims can both seek justice and financial support by speaking with a crime victim lawyer about the possibility of filing a dram shop lawsuit.