Should Valets Be Responsible for Drunk Drivers?

Say a guy walks out of a fancy bar or restaurant. He’s obviously three sheets to the wind but he pays for his valet parking, gives the attendant his ticket and receives his keys in return. Now say that man gets behind the wheel and gets into an accident. How much culpability should that valet attendant have in the matter given that they were the person responsible for literally giving the drunk man keys to his own car and sending him on his way? This is the discussion currently ongoing in Boston.

City Councilor Rob Consalvo was moved to action after a 23-year old on a scooter was recently mowed down by a drunk driver. The driver, it’s said, was surprised anyone would give him his keys – but that’s exactly what the valet did and that guy Consalvo thinking.

Why shouldn’t valet workers have some level of responsibility for what happens to the driver after they get behind the wheel? If someone is visibly intoxicated, how can they in good faith hand that person their keys? The issue, it seems, might not be that black and white.

For starters, several valet attendants are underage, getting paid minimum wage to run up and down parking lots trying to return cars to their owners in a decent amount of time in hopes that they might earn a meager tip. Is it too much responsibility to compound the situation further by placing the onus on these teenagers should, god forbid, someone get hurt later on? Others are more direct in their objections.

“You’re going to have suit after suit after suit,” says Dave Andelman of the Restaurant and Business Alliance. He says making valets get more training and more insurance would only drive up parking costs for everyone. And where do you stop, Andelman asks — should we deputize coat checkers to take away drivers’ keys?”

Consalvo admits that there is a lot to be figured out – but suggests that people would accept the offer of free overnight parking and a ride home — and might even be grateful the morning after.

(Source: NPR)

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