Should bartenders and restaurant owners be held liable when their customers drink alcoholic beverages, drive, and then injure or kill someone? The answer is found in California’s “dram shop” laws, which actually protect owners and bartenders from liability if a customer drives while intoxicated and injures or kills someone. The code specifically states, “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person…the furnishing of alcoholic beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted upon another by an intoxicated person.” The law also extends this protection to private hosts.
The exception is when an adult furnishes alcohol to a person that he or she knows or should have known is under 21; if injuries or death result, the adult furnishing the alcohol may be found liable, sentenced to 6-to-12 months in a county jail, and fined up to $1,000. Bartenders can, however, be charged with a misdemeanor under California Business and Professions Code, which states, “Every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to any habitual or common drunkard or to any obviously intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
If you’ve been injured in an accident with an intoxicated driver, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you locate and receive the compensation you need for medical expenses, lost income, and more. Even when the driver who injures you is uninsured, a good personal injury lawyer is able to uncover all available sources of compensation and help you win what you need. If you’ve been hurt – or if you’re injured in the future – by an intoxicated or negligent driver, get the help you need and call an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible.