What Is Dram Shop Liability?

On a Friday night in March, Marcial Aragon Colmillo of Greensboro and passenger Juan Carlos Cortes were driving home when a speeding car going the wrong way down West Market Street in Greensboro, North Carolina, slammed head-on into their vehicle. Both men were killed in the drunk driving accident. The driver of the car that struck them, 20-year-old Ian Michael Smith, has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

So, legally, who is at fault for this tragic drunk driving accident? While many can (and should) blame the driver who got behind the wheel while intoxicated, it is also important to remember that a bar, saloon, restaurant, or other drinking establishment in the Greensboro area probably served the under-aged man alcohol illegally – and enough to intoxicate him. Should the commercial establishment that sold the 20-year-old alcohol be partially to blame for the death of two men?

In North Carolina, there is a legal term called dram shop liability. A dram shop is technical term for any place that serves alcohol, such as a bar or tavern, and dram shop liability law says that in some cases, these bars or taverns have a legal responsibility when someone they serve creates a public hazard. In most cases, dram shop liability becomes an issue when a drinking establishment has served someone who is obviously already intoxicated or when they have served a minor.

While some believe that dram shop liability laws take away from personal responsibility, many believe that it is vitally important that bars and saloons take responsibility for who they serve alcohol to and when they serve them.

Have you or someone you love been involved in a drunk driving accident in North Carolina that could have been prevented if the intoxicated driver had not been served or sold alcohol in the hours before the crash? Speak with a North Carolina car accident attorney today about your case.