New Mexico is 2nd state to make gas stations liable for DUI

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court says gas stations have a legal obligation not to sell fuel to drivers who are believed to be intoxicated.

The court issued a divided decision Monday that could have far-reaching effects on businesses and that only one other state applies so strictly.

The decision resolves a question of state law about the potential liability of a retailer that sold gasoline to an intoxicated driver in 2011 who later got into a fatal crash.

The decision notes that only Tennessee also applies the law in such a way to create a “duty of care” for businesses to not supply fuel to drunken drivers because of the risk of driving while intoxicated.

Chief Justice Michael E. Vigil and Justices C. Shannon Bacon and David K. Thomson formed the Court’s majority. Justice Barbara J. Vigil, who retired from the Court at the end of June, dissented.

"A duty not to sell gasoline to an intoxicated person is consistent with liability for providing an intoxicated person with alcohol or a vehicle," the Court’s majority wrote in an opinion by Justice C. Shannon Bacon. "Gasoline, alcohol, and the vehicle itself are all enabling instrumentalities involved in intoxicated driving. Gasoline is required to operate most vehicles today. Providing gasoline to an intoxicated driver is like providing car keys to an intoxicated driver. Accordingly, liability under negligent entrustment for the sale gasoline to an intoxicated driver is consistent with New Mexico law."