USA: Petrol pumps not to sell fuel to drunk drivers

Gas stations can deny fuel, if they know a driver is intoxicated.

The Supreme Court of the state of New Mexico, USA has issued a new ruling that allows fuel stations to refrain from selling fuel to intoxicated drivers.

According to a media report, the New Mexico Supreme Court stated that commercial petrol stations have a ‘duty of care’ and can refrain from selling fuel to a driver, if the vendor knows, or has reasons to believe, is under the influence of alcohol.

The decision has been taken as a reaction to a fatal accident that occurred in 2011, when a petrol station sold fuel to a drunk driver, who upon returning on to the highway, collided with an oncoming vehicle, resulting in the death of the other driver.

The court has reviewed past legal precedents, statutes and other principles, before reaching its decision. The court also stated that New Mexico is only the second state in the USA, after Tennessee, to announce such a ruling.

However, not everyone seems to be in agreement with the new decision. Now-retired Justice Barbara Vigil dissented the decision, stating that selling or serving alcohol is regulated and the law doesn’t warrant extending liability for drunken driving to retail sales of non-alcoholic goods. She also explained that the new law could, further, cause confusion for other retail businesses.

Vigil also added that it is unclear as to how much investigation a petrol station will have to do to check if a driver is drunk. This is because many vehicle owners in the USA pay at the pump, rather than interacting with the worker inside.

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