Alcohol, Sex and Coronavirus

What do Alcohol, Sex and Coronavirus have in common?

What do alcohol, sex and the Coronavirus have in common? Managed effectively, their risk can be mitigated. Left unchecked it can be disastrous. Democratic societies manage risk through laws. Most follow a simple, over-arching principle: act reasonably, under the circumstances, which is legal speak for follow the Golden Rule.

Almost all laws find their genesis in this simple concept. Negligence is failing to act reasonably under the circumstances. Act unreasonably and injure another and they can sue you. Crimes, such as murder, kidnap, and assault are unreasonable. They are therefore illegal. Drinking too much alcohol and causing injury to another is unreasonable. To “discourage” potentially fatal danger to others, driving a car or a boat while intoxicated is illegal. Service of alcohol to habitual drunkards and those underage is unreasonable. It is illegal and, in Florida, if they get intoxicated at your home or establishment and are injured (or a third party) as a result, you are liable for their injuries. If an intoxicated person stumbles into you causing injury, that is unreasonable and may constitute negligence for which you can sue them civilly. If you drink too much and are injured, in Florida you may not recover for negligence causing your injuries if you are more than 50% at fault.

Drinking alcohol and having sex seems reasonable. But having sex while intoxicated complicates that logic. Nonconsensual sex of any kind is by definition sexual assault. Meaningful consent requires that both parties have the capacity to consent. If someone is intoxicated to the point they cannot meaningfully consent, it is unreasonable to have sex with them and could be interpreted as a sexual assault, which is illegal. If someone has a sexually transmitted disease and tells the other party prior to sex and they consent there is no liability for transmission. On the other hand, if they fail to disclose and transmit an STD they can be held civilly liable. All of this makes sense logically because it is reasonable. An intoxicated individual who has a sexually transmitted disease might not disclose it because of their intoxication. While this might not change their liability for transmission, an intoxicated individual infected in this manner may be found by a jury to have taken their chances.

Individuals with Coronavirus must take precautions to avoid infecting others, including following medical and governmental recommendations such as wearing a mask and social distancing. Failure to do so, and as a result, infecting another individual may give rise to civil liability. Businesses must similarly act reasonably under the circumstances, which at the very least means following medical and governmental recommendations. Some businesses have seemingly been slow to implement such precautions and if and when it is proven that Coronavirus was spread as a result, they may face civil liability.

In these trying times, it is tempting to over imbibe to ease our fears. Companionship is comforting, and with alcohol-aided reduced inhibitions our usual protective mechanisms often drop. While momentarily enjoyable, the risks may not be worth the reward. If in doubt, imagine the Golden Rule as a question: Am I doing to others as I would have others do to me? The Golden Rule is a good barometer for whether conduct is both legal and reasonable.