When an accident occurs involving drunk driving, many people do not know that the party that served the alcohol to the intoxicated person may be held liable for their negligence in serving the intoxicated party. However, there are exceptions. These exceptions typically occur when the chain of events does not show a direct link of causation between the consumption of alcohol and subsequent accident or injury. If there are intervening causes or an event occurs that breaks the chain of causation, the party who furnished the alcohol to the intoxicated party who caused the accident may not be liable.
In a recent court opinion, questions concerning the scope of a liquor licensee’s liability for injuries its patron caused after a night of drinking came under consideration. The day before the accident occurred, a man had worked a twelve-hour shift at his warehouse job. After finishing his shift, he headed to a family wedding reception, where he had some beer. After, he went out with a group of friends to a club owned by the defendant. On the way to the club, the man stopped at a convenience store and purchased a twenty-four-ounce container of beer, which he consumed while driving to the club. After several drinks at the club, the man and his group headed home for the night at around 2am and fell asleep.
At around 5am, the man got up to drive some friends home when he crashed his pickup truck into a car stopped at a red light, killing both of the car’s occupants. He was arrested at the scene and convicted of two counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The family members of those killed in the DUI accident filed a lawsuit, asserting dram shop liability against the club.