In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Should You Ever Sign Agreements Over Drinks?

Some of the greatest agreements are celebrated with a toast.

But when has a party gotten out of control? When the bride passes out drunk? When a signer spills his drink on the document?

It's not much of a defense to say you were drunk at the time, especially in DUI court, but it could be a defense to enforcing an agreement if a signer loses capacity. So here's to drinking responsibly!

Capacity to Contract

Judges are not very sympathetic to people who claim they were intoxicated when they signed a contract. A court may void a contract if one party took advantage of the other's drunken state, or if the person was involuntarily drugged.

As a rule, it's not a good idea to drink people under the table before entering a contract. Even if they can sign the document, it's an invitation to a capacity challenge.

Mayor Martin Resendiz tried it in a case with a California company that sued his city for $1 million. He said in a deposition that he was inebriated when he signed nine contracts.

"The day I signed, I had way too much to drink," he told the Albuquerque Journal. "I didn't know what I was doing."

Don't Drink Alone

Resendiz, a former police officer and municipal judge, said he had been drinking with the company's representatives for several hours. City Councilor Daniel Salinas said he was at the meeting, and he was also drunk.

"Again, this was after two or three hours of us drinking, not exactly the best time to do business, not exactly the best time to read over legal documents," the mayor said.

The case put Sunland Park on the map for all the wrong reasons, but eventually the controversy disappeared from the internet radar.

However, the mayor's political career seems to have fizzled.

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