Do bars or hosts have any liability for drunk drivers?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Drunk Driver Accidents

When an innocent person is hurt by a drunk driver, the question of liability can extend beyond the driver.  Were there other parties who played a part in letting a dangerous driver get on the road?

In Massachusetts, both commercial establishments and private party hosts can, under certain circumstances, be held liable for serving the alcohol to a drunk driver.

Commercial liability: dram shop laws

Dram shop laws apply to businesses like bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. These laws prohibit serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals. If a patron leaves the establishment and causes an accident, the business may be liable for damages that the drunk person caused. Massachusetts requires these businesses to carry liquor liability insurance to cover such incidents.

Private host liability: social host laws

Social host laws pertain to individuals who host private parties. While there is no specific statute, Massachusetts courts recognize “social host liability,” meaning a host should not serve alcohol to guests they know (or should know) are intoxicated. If an overserved guest causes a motor vehicle accident, the host could be held responsible for resulting damages.

Drunk driving is a real problem throughout the country. In Massachusetts, to ensure all responsible parties are held accountable for these tragedies, both bars and private party hosts can be held liable for accidents caused by drunk drivers they served.

It is crucial for bar owners and others to understand their responsibilities and the potential legal consequences of overserving alcohol, and if you are involved in a drunk driving car accident, you can hold everyone accountable.


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