Lakota R. Denton, PA

When Is a Bar Liable for Its Drunk Customers?

Drunk driving kills 30 people every single day in the United States. 


Asheville drunk driving lawyerLaw enforcement, education, and punishment are all helpful ways to reduce drunk driving and save lives.  However, bars and restaurants also have a responsibility to help prevent drunk driving.  How?  It is against the law for a bar or restaurant to serve alcohol to someone that they know, or should know is drunk.  Bars and restaurants that follow the law help protect us all from drunk drivers on our roads.


Every State in the country has a law that says if you sell alcohol, you cannot sell alcohol to someone that you know or should know is intoxicated.  The purpose of these laws is to protect everyone from drunk drivers

drunk driving infographic - dram shop lawHow can a bartender tell if someone is intoxicated? 

Here are some signs to look for:

  • The number of drinks someone has consumed
  • Slurry speech
  • Red flushed face
  • Glassy eyes
  • Difficulty walking, standing
  • Dramatic changes in mood/affect
  • Drinking more than usual

Bartenders must always be aware of the behavior of their customers and the number of drinks a customer has consumed.  Sometimes, this can be very difficult for a bartender to monitor.  Bartenders must always err on the side of caution and avoid serving alcohol to a customer they suspect is intoxicated.


What should a bartender do if they suspect a customer has had too much to drink? 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Notify management
  • Suggest the customer drink water, eat food
  • Call a cab for the customer
  • Suggest the customer not drive anywhere until they sober up


What happens if a drunk customer leaves a bar where they have been over served? 

The bar is liable for the drunk customer’s actions, such as causing a car crash or assaulting someone.  Where a drunk driver leaves a bar where he/she has been over served and causes serious injuries in a car crash, the bar is liable for the injuries caused by the drunk.

Bars and restaurants are in a position to prevent drunk driving if they follow the law; they should always err on the side of caution and cut someone off if they appear intoxicated.  This practice will go a long way in preventing serious injuries and death from drunk drivers.

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if you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk driver, we can help.  Call or email today.  We assist victims of drunk drivers to obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries, and make sure that the responsible parties are held accountable. 


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Attorney Lakota R. Denton is a personal injury lawyer in Asheville, NC who proudly to assists clients that have been injured through no fault of their own, or due to someone else’s negligence. A graduate of the New England College of Law, Lakota is a recipient of the 2014 “top 40 under 40” award from the National Association of Trial Lawyers and is a member of North Carolina Advocates for Justice. Lakota and his staff are committed to helping injured persons to get the compensation they deserve. For more information, contact our office.

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