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Dram shop liability in drunk driving cases

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2017 | Car accidents

When drunk drivers injure someone, they are not always the only ones who can be held liable for their actions. In some cases, laws called dram shop acts can also come into play. Here is a brief explanation of dram shop laws and how dram shop liability works in Georgia. 

As Findlaw explains, dram shop laws allow people who have been injured by a drunk driver to hold the bar or restaurant that served the drunk driver alcohol accountable in court. Dram laws date back to the 1700s in England. Dram refers to the size of a spoonful of gin such as those sold at pubs and inns at that time. The rationale behind dram shop acts is that if the owner of a bar or pub allows someone to be served alcohol when they know that person could cause damage to people or property, the owner should be legally responsible for some of those damages. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that the modern application of dram shop laws has been narrowed by some states, including Georgia. In Georgia, only the drinker is responsible for the damages he or she caused when intoxicated, except under special circumstances.

The dram shop law of Georgia states that a licensed establishment selling alcoholic drinks can be held liable for the damages of a person who drank there if its employees intentionally and illegally provide alcoholic drinks to someone who is below the legal drinking age who they know will soon be driving. A bar can avoid liability for serving someone underage if the underage person provided a fake ID indicating that he or she was of legal driving age. An establishment can also be held liable if workers knowingly serve someone who is noticeably intoxicated who workers know will soon be driving.



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