February 1, 2008 By Wallin & Klarich

This is the question that many people arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol are being asked in at least one state, and this law enforcement practice has many bar owners fuming.

New Jersey officers have begun regularly asking all DUI arrestees where they had their last drink. The question seems innocuous enough. However, the officers plan to use this information to target establishments that serve alcoholic beverages to people who are “obviously intoxicated” a violation of New Jersey law. Bar owners claim that they already operate under a state regulation that punishes them from serving intoxicated patrons, and that law enforcement officers should not be relying upon people who may be impaired to provide credible information about where they had their last drink.

Although there is no indication that California officials have present plans to enact such a policy, California does have a law on the books that punishes anyone “who furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to any habitual or common drunkard or to any obviously intoxicated person.” (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 25602, subd. (a).) A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for six months, or by fine of $1000, or both such fine and imprisonment. (Ibid.; Pen. Code, § 19.)

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