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Exploring the Dram Shop Laws in Georgia

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Alcohol is a common cause of the state’s most severe and tragic accidents. When someone is injured because of a drunken driver, they have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver, but also the vendor that supplied the alcohol.

Most states in the U.S. now have laws that hold social hosts and vendors responsible for the actions of patrons who have consumed alcohol in their facility. Georgia is one of those states that employs dram shop laws.

What is the Dram Shop Law in the State of Georgia?

Under Georgia Code Section 51-1-40, an injured person can hold the vendor of alcoholic beverages, including restaurants, bars, and other alcohol-serving establishments, liable if three circumstances are present:

  • The establishment knowingly or unlawfully serves alcohol to a person that is under the legal drinking age of 21;
  • The person or institution knowingly serves alcohol to someone that is obviously intoxicated; and the establishment or individual knows that the intoxicated individual will drive a motor vehicle.

An Example of the Dram Shop Law

A person stops at a local bar on their way home from work. They have few drinks. The bartender continues to serve the person even though they are obviously intoxicated. They also know that they intend to drive home, but continue to serve anyway.

On the way home, that drunk patron causes an accident that severely injures another motorist. Now that motorist is permanently disfigured and can no longer work. The victim has the right to sue both the intoxicated driver and the establishment or bartender responsible for serving him as well.

What About Social Host Liability?

In addition to the dram shop laws, there are also social host liability laws to consider. These apply to those who serve alcohol to minors or intoxicated adults as the host of a party. For example, a party host at a private residence could be liable if one of their party-goers drives home drunk and causes a serious accident.

The social host liability is also part of Georgia Code Section 51-1-40.

Like vendors, social hosts must know that the person is intending to drive while intoxicated. If they do not know that the person is driving, they cannot be held liable for resultant injuries. For example, if the attendee of the party claims that they will call a cab, waits and decides to drive anyway, the host may not be liable.

Holding Establishments and Hosts Accountable

If you are involved in an accident with a drunken driver, the first step is to determine if the dram shop or social host liability laws apply in your case. An attorney from Van Sant Law, can help you with that.

Our attorneys have been holding drunken drivers and third parties accountable for catastrophic accidents for years. Our team is here to advocate for your right to compensation, and we will not rest until you receive the damages you deserve.

To see if your case qualifies, speak with an attorney during a free, no obligation consultation by calling 404-991-5950 or by requesting more information online.

David M. Van Sant
Atlanta personal injury lawyer dedicated to helping clients throughout GA get the compensation they deserve.