When Is a Bar Liable for Its Drunk Customers?

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

Law 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

How can a bartender tell if someone is intoxicated? 

Asheville drunk driving lawyer

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.

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

Attorney Lakota Denton

Attorney Lakota DentonLakota Denton has been practicing in his own firm since 2013, focusing solely on personal injury. He is a member of the American Association of Justice, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the North Carolina Bar association, the American Bar Association, the National Trial Lawyers, and was awarded Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers, the 2014 Top 40 Lawyers under 40, and the Avvo clients choice award. [ Attorney Bio ]



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