In the summer of 2017, an Atlanta Chick-fil-A employee was headed to work when he was killed in a t-bone accident with a drunk driver who was leaving a strip club. After the deceased man’s family initiated legal action against Oasis Goodtime Emporium, a strip club in Doraville, for letting the “noticeably intoxicated” driver leave the club, the DeKalb County State Court recently announced that the club should not have served the man.
The accident occurred after the intoxicated driver failed to stop for a red light. The driver was later charged with DUI, vehicular homicide, driving on a suspended license, and several other charges. An upcoming trial will determine exactly what the family of the deceased man is owed.
Understanding Georgia’s “Dram Shop” Laws
You might have heard of “dram shop liability” and “social host liability”, which provide a civil method of action in situations where a victim or a deceased person’s loved ones are able to establish that by serving alcohol to either an underage driver or visibly intoxicated driver, an alcohol provider is legally responsible for any resulting injuries or death.
As a result, these laws let the victims of drunk driving accidents pursue compensation from someone who illegally or negligently provided or sold alcohol to someone.
Unique Elements of Georgia’s Dram Shop Law
While most states have some version of dram shop laws, Georgia’s Dram Shop Act (which is found at O.C.G.A. § 51-1-40) controls how these matters are settled in the state of Georgia. This law allows pedestrians and even passengers inside the intoxicated driver’s vehicle who are killed or injured by a drunk driver to assert claims against the location that provided the alcohol.
The law, however, prohibits the intoxicated driver and his or her family members from pursuing legal action against the negligent alcohol provider.
These claims must involve either alcohol that is provided to a person who has not yet reached the state’s lawful drinking age of 21 or locations that negligently provide alcohol to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication.
To establish a dram shop or social host claim, the victim of a drunk driving accident must prove each of these following elements in a court of law:
- That the defendant willfully and unlawfully sold or furnished alcohol to a person who is not of the lawful drinking age or that the defendant knowingly provided alcohol to a person who was in a visible state of intoxication.
- At the time that the alcohol was provided, the defendant was aware that the person drinking the alcohol would soon be operating a motor vehicle.
- That the alcohol served contributed to the driver’s intoxication and that the impaired driving caused an accident in which the victim was killed or injured.
Contact a DUI Lawyer Today
At Yeargan & Kert LLC, our DUI lawyers in Atlanta have significant experience helping people who have been impacted by drunk driving accidents. If you face any type of DUI charge in the state of Georgia, you should not hesitate to contact our law firm.
We are also willing to review and can potentially provide representation if your case occurred in South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, or Florida. We have significant experience responding to DUI charges and will remain committed to fighting for the best possible outcome in your case.