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How do dram shop laws relate to drunk driving crashes?

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2022 | DUI/Dram Shop Laws

Were you injured in a drunk driving accident? If so, you likely want to hold the drunk driver accountable, perhaps through a personal injury lawsuit. You might also ask if the drunk driver the only one to blame. What about the place that sold them the intoxicating beverages? Dram shop laws can hold those establishments responsible as well.

What are dram shop laws?

Dram shop laws are in place to hold establishments and private homeowners responsible for serving alcohol to those under age 21 or to those who are already intoxicated and later cause a car accident that injures or kills someone else. Each state has its own Dram Shop Act that holds establishments liable for serving alcohol to minors or intoxicated persons.

Dram shop laws allow those who were injured in a drunk driving accident to hold the establishment that sold the defendant liquor liable as a third-party. These parties are held liable through negligence laws.

In general, to prove negligence you must be able to show the defendant owed you a duty, which was breached, that this breach caused an anticipatable accident and that you suffered damages as a result. Generally, a person must be visibly intoxicated for dram shop laws to apply.

Dram shop laws in New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, if an establishment negligently sold alcohol to someone that they knew or should have known was visibly intoxicated or was a minor and that person went on to harm another due to their intoxication, and the harm was a foreseeable consequence of the service of intoxicating beverages, then the establishment may be held liable.

For example, if a person is visibly intoxicated, goes to a bar where they are served more alcohol and then drives home and causes a drunk driving crash, the bar may be held liable for the collision.

Dram shop laws help drunk driving accident victims hold all responsible parties accountable. Bars, restaurants and private parties should not serve alcohol to those who are already drunk or who are minors. You can discuss dram shop laws with your personal injury attorney if you want further information on how they affect you.