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An Overview of Georgia Dram Shop Laws

Accidents involving alcohol account for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. Because DUI accidents can be so devastating, states have imposed laws such as the dram shop law and social host liability law to discourage bartenders, servers, and party hosts from serving alcohol to already intoxicated people.  Dram Shop Law

What Are Dram Shop and Social Host Liability Laws?

Historically, “dram shop” is a British term for any establishment selling alcohol such as a pub, bar, or restaurant. In the U.S., 43 states have a dram shop law in place, which gives accident victims the right to sue establishments that serve alcohol for damages after being injured by a drunk driver. Georgia law O.C.G.A. §51-1-40 outlines that anyone who serves alcohol in the following scenarios can be held liable:

  • A minor was served “willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully”
  • A “noticeably intoxicated” person was served
  • It was evident that the minor or “noticeably intoxicated” individual was about to operate a motor vehicle and was served anyway

Associated with the dram shop law is the social host liability law. While some states codified separate pieces of legislature for each, Georgia combined them into the one law: O.C.G.A. §51-1-40. Whether the person who caused an accident was given alcohol by a business establishment or in a private residence, an injury victim can hold liable the person who provided the alcohol.

Hold the Guilty Accountable

An experienced lawyer can help you build a case against both the person who furnished the alcohol and the drunk driver who hurt you. However, in Georgia, it’s imperative that you and your attorney prove the server or social host knew the at-fault driver was about to get into a vehicle. Additionally, you must bring liable parties to court within two years of the accident. Finding evidence to support your claim can maximize your entitlement to compensation for damages, including:

  • Medical bills, both immediate and future
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Pain and suffering

Build a Case With a Trusted Attorney

If you were injured in a car accident with a drunk driver and want to pursue action against those who furnished the alcohol, you should speak with an attorney. The legal team at Duffy & Feemster is prepared to answer your questions and help you understand your options for legal action. Contact us by starting a live online chat to learn more.


Dwight T. Feemster
Dwight is a civil and criminal attorney in Georgia.

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