Dram Shop Actions

When drunk drivers cause wrecks, they often inflict maximum harm but only carry minimum insurance, leaving the injured victim to bear all of the expense associated with their injuries and damages. When this occurs, you should investigate the possibility of filing a “Dram Shop” claim against the person or business that served the alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver to begin with.

Traditionally, “Dram Shops” were bars, liquor stores or other business that sold liquor in small quantities—a dram, or a small amount of whiskey. Once automobiles became popular and widely used, States began to wrestle with the question of whether the Dram Shop that over served the drunk driver could also be held responsible for the resulting injuries. Now, virtually every state has some sort of Dram Shop law which, under certain circumstances, can be used to establish vicarious liability on the person or entity that over served the drunk driver.

Georgia law prohibits the service of alcohol to a person in a state of noticeable intoxication. O.C.G.A. § 3-3-22. Further, civil liability attaches upon service of alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated person when it is known that person will soon be driving. Under Georgia’s Dram Shop Act, “[I]f a provider in the exercise of reasonable care should have known both that the recipient of alcohol was noticeably intoxicated and that the recipient would be driving soon, the provider will be deemed to have knowledge of that fact.” Griffin Motel Co. v. Strickland, 223 Ga. App. 812, 814 (1996). See also O.C.G.A. § 51-1-40.

If the two required elements are present; namely, the server knew the customer was noticeably intoxicated and knew the customer would be driving soon, then that server can possibly be held liable if the drunk customer subsequently drives and causes injury to another. The attorneys at Burnside Law Firm have successfully pursued Dram Shop actions against bar owners in the past. If you or someone you know have been injured by a drunk driver and think that the business that over served the driver could be liable, contact our attorney for a free consultation.