California Needs to Revise its Laws Concerning Bar Owners Responsibility for Drunk Drivers

bartender.jpgThe family of a ten year old girl, Jazimen Warr, who was killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver has brought suit against the bar which served copious amounts of alcohol to the man earlier in the evening. The accident occurred in the state of Maryland in 2008. The bar, the Dogfish Head Alehouse served over 14 beers and two lemon drops to the inebriated customer over a period of six hours. Unfortunately, the family has a tough legal battle ahead of them as the State of Maryland has laws which protect bars against these types of suits.

The majority of states have some form of dram shop law. These laws will hold a bar or other proprietor of alcohol liable for injuries caused when they have served alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers who later get in their cars and injure or kill others on the highways.

In California, however, bar owners are for the most part protected against dram shop liability. The only current exception is if the bar owner serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated minor In that instance the bar owner, will be legally responsible for car accidents and personal injuries caused by the drunk driver.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) strongly supports drunk driving laws which hold bar owners liable. As an Alameda personal injury lawyer, I also feel families such as Jazimen Warr’s should not be barred from recovery for wrongful death. A bar owner who repeatedly pushes drinks on a customer, makes a profit on it, and then sends him out onto the highways should not be allowed to walk away from a tragedy like this and bear no responsibility. I believe the laws in California should be strengthened in this regard.


Washington Post, Bar Sued After Patron’s Crash Kills Girl, December 14, 2010

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