Liability for Accidents Involving Liquor Sales and Service Clarified

Categories: DUIs in Georgia

If a bar sells liquor to an underage person, and that person later goes out and has an auto accident that injures or kills someone, is the bar partially liable? Based on legislation passed in Georgia, the answer just might be yes.

The same is true if the person who provided the alcohol is simply a social host who provided alcohol to a minor. This is where things really can get serious, and it’s why people need to keep any alcohol in their home away from those who are underage. Even if you are out of town and your teenage children get into your liquor cabinet with their friends, and those friends have an accident, you could be liable if the liquor was readily accessible. It’s scary, isn’t it?

At the risk of confusing the situation, the rules change completely if a person over 21 purchases or consumes alcohol and then later goes out and has an accident that hurts or kills someone. In that case, neither the bar or in party host would be legally liable.

However, if the person who is over 21 was visibly drunk when the alcohol was served or sold, the person or establishment that provided it could be held liable if that individual causes an accident, property damage, injuries or deaths. If the host or bartender knew the person was about to drive and sold alcohol to him or her, the rules change again.

It’s a tricky bit of legislation, but most of the states in the country have passed some form of this ruling. In many areas, it is called a Dram Shop Law. Dram shop is the original name of a place that sold liquor. In earlier days, it was assumed that the selling of liquor was not the cause of an accident, the consumption was. Since the consumption was an individual decision, dram shops were not held liable.

New laws have changed that in the case of minors or those who are already drunk and are “over-served.”

If you are injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver and you need a personal injury attorney, contact David Van Sant. He can help you sort through the laws and understand your legal rights. In the meantime, remember that if you serve alcohol to a drunk person or someone who is underage, you could be personally liable for any injuries or other damage that is later caused by that individual.