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Lawsuit Questions Alcohol Serving Limits

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LANE COUNTY, Ore. — A DUII case in Cottage Grove is calling attention to how much is too much alcohol for bars and restaurants to serve to their customers.

The family of Theresa Grodona, who was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver last year, is suing the driver, Jeremy Henry, and the two restaurants where he was allegedly drinking before the crash. The suit claims Henry was drinking at both restaurants before the wreck and that restaurant employees served him alcohol even though he was visibly intoxicated.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission says there are a lot of grey areas in cases like this and that it’s hard to know whether or not an individual was drunk before reaching the bar or how much alcohol tipped that person over the limit.

“People can go from from walked-in-the-bar and that next drink puts them over the edge because they were at a different place, or they were at two or three other places and it just happens that one drink puts them over,” says OLCC investigator Mark Jaehnig.

Jaehnig says it’s also difficult to judge because intoxication can appear subjective; someone who looks drunk to one person may seem fine to someone else.

OLCC also says that as long as bars take drinks away from drunk patrons and try to help them find safe means of getting home, they’ve met their requirements as licensees.

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