Thumbs Up for Beer Fans Court Signals Lenient Treatment for Oktoberfest Drunks

Good news for inebriated beer drinkers walking zig-zag through the streets of Munich on their way home from the Oktoberfest this year -- a local court has ruled that motorists will be held partly liable for any accidents involving drunks.

Beer heaven is about to open its gates at the Munich Oktoberfest.

Beer heaven is about to open its gates at the Munich Oktoberfest.

Motorists in Munich beware -- if you collide with a drunken reveller who runs out in front of your vehicle during the Oktoberfest beer festival, the courts may well decide it's your fault.

The Munich district court set a precedent on Monday by ruling against a woman motorcyclist who was claiming compensation for injuries she sustained and damage to her motorbike when an inebriated man jaywalked in front of her at a traffic light during the 2006 Oktoberfest.

The judge decided that the woman was to blame for half the damage. "During the Oktoberfest it is officially known that large numbers of drunken people are at large (…) and one can't always expect them to stick to traffic rules," the court said in a statement, citing the judge.

The motorcyclist should have driven more slowly in view of the obvious dangers, the judge ruled. The man was ordered to pay only half the €2,478 ($3,620) in damage to the motorbike and the woman wasn't awarded the additional €1,000 she had claimed as compensation for her superficial injuries.

This is good news for the 6 million visitors expected to flock to the world's biggest beer festival, which opens on Saturday, Sept. 19 with a parade of Bavarian folk groups wearing lederhosen and dirndls.

Many who savor the amber nectar served up in one-liter glasses in the enormous beer tents are preprogrammed to end up drunk. The beer, brewed specially by six Munich breweries for the two-week festival, has a six percent alcohol content, which makes it stronger than normal lager beer.

Last year visitors guzzled 6.49 million liters of beer. A total of 4,600 lost items were collected from the 14 giant beer tents including one dachshund, one superman costume and one pair of diving goggles.



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