Liquor Stores Held Liable To Victims Of Drunk Drivers

Washington has a dram shop statute that states, "[n]o person shall sell liquor to any person apparently under the influence of liquor." Statutory violations are "punishable by a fine of not more than $500 as well as separate [civil] actions."

In other words, you have the legal right to sue the establishment responsible for endangering the public by allowing the patron to leave and drive while intoxicated. You can sue the restaurant for causing your injuries and you might be entitled to compensation if you meet the burden of proof.

Bars, pubs, restaurants, taverns, liquor stores and other alcohol-serving institutions are accountable to victims of drunk drivers when it is evident that bartenders and waiters knowingly over-served an underage or visibly intoxicated patron. The problem is that the victim has to find a way to prove that the restaurant knew the driver was a minor or drunk.

Legal hurdles associated with this proposition can be astronomical — especially if you wait too long to pursue your case. At a minimum, you need witness statements to demonstrate that the store knowingly violated the law. An experienced DUI accident attorney conducts the legal and investigative footwork needed to preserve your case by:

  • Obtaining copies of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) exams. Blood, urine or Breathalyzer tests evince the driver’s level of intoxication.
  • Interviewing eyewitnesses at the scene of the accident. Police officers, eyewitnesses and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) provide more detail, beyond the police report, about what happened.
  • Gathering witness statements, credit card receipts and video from the bar. Patrons may remember the details of that night, but the security video and the time-stamped credit card receipt may be decisive.