Alcohol and the Law Francesca M Brett MD; FRCPath; FFPath: MSc (FM). Ireland has one of the highest alcohol consumption rates in Europe. Compounded by ‘binge drinking’ culture. No national guidelines on blood alcohol testing in the emergency room.
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Alcohol and the Law
Francesca M Brett MD; FRCPath; FFPath: MSc (FM)
CT large left frontal contusion and right parietal contusion
Pt died 11 days after admission
Insurance firm unhappy to pay for repatriation of the body as “alcohol related” injury
How were the injuries sustained ???
Simple fall in an intoxicated epileptic ????
Can the family sue the MIB1???
In the case of accidents after 31st Dec 1998 the liability of the MIBI
“extends to the payment of compensation for the personal injury or death of any person caused by the negligent driving of a vehicle in a public place where the owner or user of the vehicle remains unidentified or untraced”
Can the family sue the MIB1???
Jordan House Hotel Ltd v Menow and Honsberger 1973.
Supreme Court of Canada
~ Menow reputation for bad behaviour and was banned from JHH
~ Allowed back on condition that he be chaperoned
~ On nt in question abandoned by escort got v drunk and ejected
~ Later hit by car on highway
~ Menow took action against the hotel for violating their duty of care by serving him alcohol and not ensuring he was safe leaving hotel
Judge felt the hotel had violated their duty of care to protect patrons from
“danger of personal injury foreseeable as a result of eviction”
The Supreme Court felt that not only did JHH have the duty to protect him when intoxicated but also a duty to prevent him from intoxication in first place
~ In Australia use VOLENTI defence – (someone who willingly put themselves in a dangerous situation is unable to sue for resultant injuries) against intoxicated calimant
~ Kelly v Gwinnell
Supreme Court of New Jersey 1984
Standard of liability in respect of supplying liquor is the same regardless of whether the host is commercial or social
Undertaking to provide a service to an inebriated person
Could amount to
“assumption of responsibility”
for that person and
“Duty of protection”
Not operational in Irish Law
4. Intoxication as a defence to criminal behaviour
Acute effects of alcohol
Blackouts ~ acute effects of alcohol on memory
~ episodes of amnesia due to a rapid rise in (BAC)
~ Mechanism - block in the transfer of information from
short term memory to long term storage.
~ Potentiating factors include drugs such as
benzodiazepines and marijuana.
~ During these episode people are able to function
appropriately, carrying out conversations etc
~ Memory impairment is antrograde.
En bloc blackouts - people can’t remember any of the events
that took place while under the influence of alcohol.
These memories don’t return even with memory cues.
The onset of the blackout is clear and after the events are
carried out the patient typically falls asleep; with their first full
memory being waking up.
Fragmentary blackouts i.e. partial blackouts - episodes of impaired
memory for some events or details during a session of drinking.
These are more common than the en bloc type.
Memory blackouts were initially characterized in alcoholics,
but occur with social drinking
DPP v Beard 1920
“Evidence of drunkenness which renders the accused incapable of forming specific intent essential to constitute a crime should be taken into consideration with the other facts provided to determine whether or not he had that intent ”
Drunkeness can have the effect of reducing a crime (specific intent) from murder to manslaughter
Law Reform Commission 1995
a) Self – induced intoxication should never form a basis for the finding of insanity
b) That no finding of insanity should ever encompass a transient condition resulting from self-induced intoxication from which the defendant has recovered when he comes to be tried and sentenced
“ you have heard a lot of expert witnesses about things occurring during sleep ….no control over it … say the epileptic or diabetic in a hypo or hyper….if they do something that have no control over …. No criminal responsibility”
“ But if that situation occurred because of voluntary consumption of alcohol …..look to the law of intoxication.. Then no defence against manslaughter”
Therefore he made it clear that there can be a defence to automatism but only if it is brought about from free standing situation
Not a defence if brought about by alcohol
Court refused leave to appeal