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Can businesses and hosts be held liable for a drunk driver?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2022 | Car Accidents

Despite all of the warnings about the dangers of drinking and driving and the ease of ordering an Uber or Lyft, too many people still get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking. Too often that results in a crash that injures or kills someone.

Certainly, the person who drives drunk bears the bulk of the responsibility for the harm they caused. However, some states, including Georgia, recognize that others may share in that responsibility and allow victims to hold them liable.

What does Georgia law say?

Georgia’s dram shop law states that a person or establishment (such as a restaurant, bar or store) can only be held liable if the person they overserved was not of legal drinking age “knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle.” They can also be held liable if they provide alcohol to someone of any age who “is in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle.“

Some states have a separate social host law that allows victims to hold private hosts responsible for a drunk driving crash. Georgia’s social host provisions are included in the same law as its dram shop provisions. 

What if an underage customer had a fake ID?

When it comes to serving underage customers, fake IDs are easy to come by and can look very realistic. If, indeed, someone had a legitimate-looking ID showing that they were of legal drinking age (21), that “shall constitute rebuttable proof that the alcoholic beverages were not sold, furnished, or served willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully.”

It may be a challenge in some instances for victims of drunk drivers to prove that an establishment or host should have known that someone was underage or intoxicated. However, it may be worthwhile to seek to hold them liable if they irresponsibly and/or illegally served alcohol to someone they knew would be getting behind the wheel. With experienced legal guidance, you can seek justice and compensation.