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Holding Bar Owners Liable For Drunk Patrons

Posted on: March 15, 2022
suing bar owner

Are There Dram Shop Laws In California? 

When a bar or restaurant serves a person too much alcohol and they go on to drink and drive, causing an accident, can they be held liable for overserving that person? In some states, there are strict laws in place to penalize establishments for overserving patrons to the point they cause harm to another person. These laws are murkier in California. Here’s what to know and how to get help from an experienced personal injury attorney after you’ve been hurt in an accident through no fault of your own. 

What Are Dram Shop Laws? 

Dram shop laws are a specific set of laws that apply to establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. These laws prevent establishments from serving alcohol to already intoxicated patrons, overserving patrons or allowing intoxicated individuals to leave the establishment in unsafe transportation. 

Old vs. New Dram Shop Laws in California 

In the past, dram shop laws in California were much stricter than they are now. A victim of a drunk driving accident could sue a bar, restaurant, or another alcohol-serving establishment if it could be proven that the owner or manager of the establishment knew the person was intoxicated, continued to serve them, or allowed them to leave while visibly inebriated. 

Now, after the passing of California Civil Code Section 1714, Responsibility for Willful and Negligent Acts in 2012, establishments no longer have the same liability for intoxicated patrons that leave the premises. The court ruled that liability landed squarely on the person consuming alcohol and not the business serving it to them. The same goes for social host liability – California puts responsibility only on the individual consuming alcohol and not on anyone serving them, at a bar, private party, or elsewhere. 

Exceptions to the Rule 

The exception to the rule is if the person being served is a minor. If an establishment or social host serves alcohol to a person under the age of 21, and that minor goes on to cause an accident, victims of that accident may be able to obtain compensation from the establishment that illegally served the minor. 

Get Help From a Trusted Injury Lawyer After a Drunk Driving Car Accident 

If you or someone you love were hurt in a drunk driving accident, you deserve to exhaust all possible avenues of compensation. Contact Chico, CA car accident attorneys Zink & Lenzi Injury Lawyers for a consultation by calling 530-895-1234.

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