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Bar liability for underage DUI incidents

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Liquor Liability / Drunk Driving Accident Liability

Alabama, known for its rich history and warm southern charm, enforces strict rules regarding alcohol consumption, especially by minors. A significant concern arises when establishments, like bars, serve alcohol to those underage. Sadly, the CDC estimates that high school students go drunk driving more than 2 million times each month.

If a bar neglects its duty, and the minor then gets involved in a DUI incident, a pressing question emerges: can you hold the bar accountable for such negligent actions?

Dram shop laws

The term “dram shop” originates from old England when establishments sold gin by the spoonful, or “dram.” Today, dram shop laws govern establishments that sell alcoholic beverages. Alabama’s dram shop laws can hold establishments responsible under specific circumstances if they sell alcohol to someone who later causes harm to others or themselves.

In Alabama, any establishment that sells or serves alcohol to someone under the age of 21 breaks the law. If a bar serves a minor, and that minor then gets into an accident or commits a DUI, Alabama’s dram shop laws apply. Under these laws, you can hold the bar accountable for negligently serving your underage child.

Establish negligence

To hold a bar liable, you need to prove negligence. You must show that the establishment knew or should have known the individual was underage and that serving this minor directly resulted in the DUI incident. Evidence such as eyewitness accounts or surveillance footage can help establish this connection.

The minor’s responsibility

It is also important to note that while you can hold a bar liable for its actions, the individual, even if underage, also has responsibility for their actions. This means that while you may seek consequences for the establishment, your child might face them as well, for both alcohol consumption and the DUI.

If a bar in Alabama serves your underage child and a DUI incident follows, you may have grounds to hold the establishment accountable. However, understanding Alabama’s dram shop laws and gathering necessary evidence will be important in pursuing such a case.