What Is Dram Shop Liability in California?

Experience Car Lawyer for Drunk Driving Accidents near Bakersfield, CA area

On average, drunk driving accidents kill more than 1,000 people each year throughout California and injure tens of thousands of others. Drunk driving accidents are among the most heinous in the sense that they are entirely preventable. People who choose to drive after drinking enough alcohol to impair their senses place everyone on the road in danger, so like all other states, California has laws against drinking and driving.

While drunk drivers may face criminal repercussions for their actions, they may also face civil actions from the people they injured or the family members of those they killed.

But what about the establishment or person who provided the drunk driver with alcohol? If the driver was visibly intoxicated and the bar continued serving them, for instance, can you hold the bar liable for your injuries and losses as well?

In many cases involving drunk driving accidents in California, the answer is no but there are exceptions.

Car accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine has helped many drunk driving accident victims receive full compensation for their injuries from all liable parties. We can review your case for free and help you determine if you can hold a third party responsible for your drunk driving accident injuries as well as the drunk driver.

California’s Dram Shop Liability Law

California law recognizes that each person is responsible for their own “willful acts” as well as any injuries they cause to others as a result. This is why you can pursue compensation from the person who drove drunk and injured you. However, section 1714 of the California Civil Code states that furnishing alcohol “is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages.”

In essence, California law shields bars, restaurants, and other establishments from liability if they serve an obviously intoxicated person who then causes a drunk driving accident that injures someone.

However, the law does make two exceptions: 

  • If a parent, guardian, or another adult provides alcohol at their residence to someone under 21, and the underage person becomes intoxicated and causes a drunk driving accident, the adult may bear liability for any injuries the minor or anyone else sustains in the accident.
  • If a licensed seller of alcohol knowingly serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated minor under 18, and the minor causes a DUI-related accident, you can hold the establishment liable for any resulting injuries or deaths.

If either of these scenarios applies to your case, you could seek compensation from the person, bar, restaurant, liquor store, or other establishment that provided the minor or underage adult with alcohol.

How Can I Hold a Drunk Driver Accountable?

Although drinking and driving violates the law in California, you can pursue compensation from the drunk driver who caused your injuries even if they are never arrested, charged, or convicted of DUI. Seeking damages is a civil action, and you only have to show the other party was negligent in their duty to keep others safe and failed to act responsibly by driving after becoming intoxicated, which led to the accident and your injuries. If the party did receive DUI charges or a conviction, you can certainly use that as evidence of their negligence and wrongdoing to strengthen your case.

Your attorney can walk you through the process of establishing liability against a drunk driver. They will likely obtain an official police report of the accident, including any reports regarding the other driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC).

The legal limits for BAC in California are: 

  • 0.08 percent for adults over 21
  • 0.01 percent for persons under 21
  • 0.04 percent for commercial drivers and Uber/Lyft drivers

Law enforcement may charge drivers with DUI whose BAC exceeds the legal limit for their situation, or if they are obviously drunk and refuse to submit to chemical testing to determine their BAC.

How Can I Hold a Third Party Liable for My Drunk Driving Accident Injuries?

California law makes it challenging to hold a third party liable for serving alcohol to the drunk driver who caused your injuries. In virtually all cases, the only time you could hold a third party liable is if an adult host served alcohol to someone under 21 or an establishment served alcohol to a minor under 18.

However, all drunk driving cases are complex with their own sets of facts and circumstances, and each requires the knowledge of an experienced attorney.

How a California Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Can Help

Drunk drivers can cause serious accidents that result in severe, even life-threatening injuries to others. If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a DUI-related crash someone else caused, you deserve compensation for medical expenses and other losses.

An experienced drunk driving accident attorney can thoroughly investigate your case and determine if a third party is also responsible for your injuries along with the intoxicated driver. A lawyer can handle all aspects of your case so you can focus on your physical recovery, and they will have resources at their disposal to help establish liability against all responsible parties.

You shouldn’t have to pay your medical bills and other related expenses, especially if you had to miss work because of your injuries and you should get the compensation you need from all parties responsible for your pain and suffering.

Contact an Experienced California Drunk Driving Accident Attorney for Free

Mickey Fine - Experience Car Injury Lawyer for Drunk Driving Accidents near Bakersfield, CA area

Mickey Fine, Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Bakersfield

The Bakersfield personal injury lawyers and investigators at the Law Offices of Mickey Fine are here for you.

We will take an active interest in your case and work diligently to identify all parties responsible for your injuries and fight to get you the maximum compensation possible.

Contact us today at (661) 333-3333 for your free consultation.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on