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Liability of Businesses Which Serve Alcohol To Intoxicated Persons

In a recent fifteen year study conducted by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) it was determined that 25.8% of all car accident fatalities were caused by drunk drivers. Many of these drunk drivers are coming from bars, restaurants, and other facilities which serve alcohol to consumers. Georgia has had long standing statutes not only criminalizing drunk driving but also assessing liability for those businesses that serve alcohol to intoxicated drivers. (GOHS ) Historically, places that sold alcohol such as bars or taverns were called “Dram Shops”, hence the origin of Georgia’s statute.

O.C.G.A § 51-1-40, also commonly referred to Georgia’s Dram Shop Liability Act, holds the person who sells, furnishes, or serves an alcoholic beverage to another in a noticeable state of intoxication, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle, liable for any injuries or damage caused by or resulting from said intoxication. §51-1-40 also applies civil liability to the person who furnishes a minor alcohol where the minor has caused a car accident as a result from the consumed amount of alcohol. This statute applies to bars, restaurants, taverns, pubs, convenience stores and others who serve alcohol.

The key to pursing a claim under this act is knowledge of the server or person furnishing the alcohol that the person is intoxicated and about to get behind the wheel. In Becks v. Pierce, 282 Ga. App. 229 (2006) the court held that there was no evidence that the bar’s employees should have known that the bar patron would be driving soon, there was no evidence that the patron had displayed the patron’s keys or that the employees were familiar enough with the patron to know that the patron would be driving, and the fact that most patrons drove to the bar was insufficient to show that the server knew the patron would soon be driving. Knowledge of a defendant is by far one of the most difficult things to prove in any litigation matter. Often an attorney will have to prove his or her case with circumstantial evidence, (i.e., witness statements, surveillance video, police reports, and medical reports).

If you or a family member are dealing with an injury or a death of a loved one as a result of someone’s negligence we are here to explain all of your legal options. We will fight to obtain all of the necessary evidence to show the business was negligent in continuing to serve patrons it had reason to know were intoxicated and about to drive. Contact Douglasville Personal Injury Lawyers today to discuss how we can help you. (770) 485-6633.