Christina Rivenbark & Associates ATTORNEYS AT LAW

North Carolina's dram shop law says that bars can help cause DUIs

We last discussed North Carolina’s dram shop law in our Nov. 30, 2012 blog post. For new visitors to this blog, and to refresh the memory of longtime readers, a dram shop law allows victims of drunk driving accidents to hold the bar and restaurant where the driver became intoxicated accountable in civil court.

The principle behind this law is that a business that serves alcohol owes the public a duty not to overserve its customers. By knowingly or negligently allowing a patron to become too drunk to drive, and allowing him or her to drive away anyway, it is as if the bar or restaurant caused the accident to happen, the thinking goes.

A Wilmington bar might face a wrongful death lawsuit under North Carolina’s dram shop law after a fatal car accident on Sept. 27. A 42-year-old man who was involved in the accident had at least four drinks at the bar that night, according to the bar’s management. The suspect is a professional DJ, but it is not clear if he was working at the bar, or was just a patron.

After leaving the bar, he drove to downtown Wilmington, then left for home. On the way, he got into an accident that caused a death.

The bar’s manager announced that officials had revoked the bar’s temporary liquor license until further notice, as of Oct. 3.

Though the bar’s employees and management did not drive the suspect’s car that night, they may have helped create the scenario where a drunk driver got into a deadly wreck. If so, the business should be liable for the victim’s wrongful death.

Source: Qnotes, “Wilmington bar closed after patron’s fatal car accident,” Matt Corner, Oct. 5, 2013

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