In many states across the U.S., there are laws that can hold a bar or restaurant responsible for a drunk driving accident caused by the alcohol they served to the driver. They are the dram shop laws that allow for the dram shop liability. Virginia is one of the few states that does not follow these laws. 

So what is dram shop liability? It is a provision that allows the injured person or family of a deceased person in a drunk driving accident to sue the establishment that sold the alcohol to the driver.  The reason for the name “dram” is because liquor used to be dispensed in a unit of measurement call drams. Hence the dram shop laws. 

In states that allow for dram shop liability, both sides can actually try and use it to receive compensation.  The idea behind the liability is that when the driver was at a bar or restaurant, the establishment failed to pay attention to the person and didn’t cut them off from any further alcoholic drinks.  The same holds true if the bartender notices a person is not capable of driving safely and doesn’t call for a taxicab to come take him home.  

In the state of Virginia, dram shop laws state that the bar or restaurant that provides the alcohol to the intoxicated driver is not liable for any arrest or actions leading to their conviction. In essence, any damages or death caused by the consumption of alcohol is not the fault of the bar or restaurant.  

Due to the fact that so many states have dram shop liability, many people in the state of Virginia think it is a possible lawsuit to take to court when they are injured by a drunk driver.

Drunk driving accidents can be very traumatic and overwhelming, even without dram shop liability. If someone you love has been killed by a drunk driver, there is help. Virginia wrongful death attorneys at Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas are more than happy to help you during this trying time. 

Andrew Thomas
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Civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

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