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Featured / 3.01.2023

Can a Bar Be Held Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident?

Author: Westlake Injury Law

Understanding Dram Shop Laws in California

If you are injured by a drunk driver, you deserve answers. You likely wonder who, other than the impaired motorist, can be held liable for your injuries. Unfortunately, unlike many other states California does not have comprehensive dram shop laws which allow an injured party to hold a bar, restaurant, or other licensed alcohol provider legally responsible if a patron they overserved causes their harm.

At Westlake Injury Lawp, we provide experienced representation for individuals who have been injured in drunk driving accidents throughout Westlake Village and the surrounding areas. We fight to hold all potentially liable parties responsible for their wrongful actions. If you have been hurt by a drunk driver, contact our office at +18053386880 to schedule a free case evaluation. 

What Are Dram Shop Laws?

Dram shop laws establish legal responsibility on licensed alcohol providers (i.e. bars and restaurants) that knowingly serve an obviously intoxicated person that ends up injuring someone due to being overserved. One of the most common examples is when a person who was overserved injures or kills someone in a drunk driving accident. 

Many jurisdictions across the country have established dram shop laws. However, they vary substantially depending on the state with some being liberally defined and others narrowly tailored. 

Does California Have Dram Shop Laws?

In California, there is generally no liability that can be imposed on a licensed provider of alcohol for overserving a patron. The only exception is if the person is a minor. The state allows for either the minor themselves or an injured third party to bring a claim against a bar, restaurant, or another provider liable. 

Pursuant to Business and Professions Code 25602.1, if a bar or restaurant knowingly furnishes alcohol to “an obviously intoxicated” minor they may be held liable if the minor injures themselves or someone else as a result of their intoxication. However, proving liability in these cases can be challenging without the help of an attorney. 

Can a Social Host Be Held Liable for Overserving a Guest?

Similar to the limited liability that is imposed on a bar or restaurant, social hosts generally can not be held legally responsible for the actions of their guests. The only exception to this is in the case of a minor. 

As explained in California Civil Code 1714(d)(1), a social host may only be held liable for knowingly furnishing alcohol to a person who they know or should have known was under the age of 21 years old, and the minor causes themselves or someone else harm as a result of their intoxication. 

Determining Liability After a Drunk Driving Accident

It can be difficult to hold someone besides the drunk driver legally responsible because the state does not impose liability on a social host, bar, restaurant, or another provider of alcohol for the acts of a third party unless the person is a minor. 

However, any time you are involved in a drunk driving accident, you should consult with an attorney to determine who you should file a claim for damages against.

Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident? Contact Our Office.

If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, contact our office at +18053386880 to schedule a free case evaluation. We have secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients and will work tirelessly for you.

 Contact us today at (805) 338-6880 for a free consultation, and let us fight for your rights.

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