What is a Dram Shop Law?

dollarphotoclub_83145303Dram shop laws are statutes that allow injured plaintiffs to not only sue a drunk driver who causes an injury, but that also allow the injured plaintiff to sue the store or bar that sold the drunk driver the alcohol that the driver consumed before causing the crash.  The purpose of these laws is to incentivize bar, restaurant, and liquor store owners and staff to be mindful of who they are selling alcohol to by making those businesses potentially liable for injuries that result from a drunk driving incident.

South Carolina Dram Shop Rules

Some states have specific statutes addressing dram shop laws.  South Carolina does not have a specific dram shop law, but it does have case law, or unofficial laws created by court decisions that permit plaintiffs to pursue dram shop claims.

In Jamison v. The Pantry, Inc., the South Carolina Supreme Court held that a convenience store that sold an underage driver alcohol could be found liable in a civil case where that underage driver then caused injury to an innocent third party.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has also found that bars that sell to clearly intoxicated patrons may be responsible for the injuries that they then cause as a result of being drunk. Ultimately, the message is that when a bar or restaurant patron looks like they have had enough, they have really had enough.

So, while there is no actual statute on the books for dram shop laws, there is court-made law that establishes liability for liquor shops and bars for instances where an intoxicated individual served there causes injury to an innocent person.

Liability Under Dram Shop Laws

Under dram shop laws, an injured person can have a civil claim against not only the drunk driver but also against the shop or bar that sold the alcohol that contributed to the drunk driver’s behavior.  Dram shop laws can help the injured party recover significant damages from bars who sold alcohol to a drunk driver.  In the case of a Charlotte, N.C. area driver who consumed at least ten drinks and then crashed into a couple, including a pregnant woman who subsequently lost her baby, the bar was found negligent and liable for the injuries.  The bar was forced to pay a civil fine of $1.7 million to the couple for its role in contributing to the harm that the drunk driver caused.

Contact a Knowledgeable DUI Attorney for Help

If you have any questions about DUI cases for yourself or a loved one, you should consider seeking legal guidance as soon as possible. The Bateman Law Firm is ready to help you build a solid defense if you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Greenville and the surrounding area.

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