Georgia Dram Shop Laws and DUI Accidents
When a person chooses to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, nothing can absolve him or her of the consequences of those actions. However, from the perspective of the injured victim, the DUI perpetrator may not be positioned to pay the compensation they require for the injuries they caused. Many may be uninsured and have little in the way of personal assets. Even when the at-fault driver is better situated, catastrophic injuries may require more compensation than they can provide. Fortunately, those injured on the road by drunk drivers may have some other options.
Georgia, along with many other states, has adopted the principle of dram shop liability by which an establishment or person that distributes alcoholic beverages can, under some circumstances, be liable for the subsequent acts of their patrons, such as causing death or injury while driving under the influence. This type of liability can apply to for-profit establishments like bars and restaurants, establishments that distribute alcohol free of charge and individuals who make alcohol available at social functions, provided certain criteria are met:
- The patron in question either must be under the legal age for consumption or must be visibly intoxicated.
- The server must provide the alcohol with knowledge that the patron is underage or visibly intoxicated.
- The server must know or have reason to know that the patron will soon be driving a motor vehicle.
While the application of this law was formerly limited to those who made alcohol available for on-site consumption, the Georgia Supreme Court extended it to convenience stores in 2011. In serious DUI injury cases, including a dram shop defendant can greatly enhance an injury victim’s ability to recover compensation. A Georgia DUI injury attorney can determine if such a claim is appropriate under the circumstances.