Can California Bars Be Liable For Accidents by Drunk Driving Patrons?

Can California Bars Be Liable For Accidents by Drunk Driving Patrons?

In approximately 95% of all accidents both fatal and non-fatal, misjudgment or errors made by the driver is the cause. Drinking and driving is a major problem and very dangerous to impaired drivers and their vehicle’s occupants as well as all others on the roads. Alcohol plays a role in approximately one-third of all fatal crashes every year in the United States. While most people need more than two beers to exceed the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol concentration, all it takes is two beers to make a driver 11 times more likely to cause an automobile accident.

California has fewer drunk drivers compared with the rest of the nation, but our state still suffers many avoidable accidents which result in death and injury each year because of alcohol. When accidents occur at the hands of a drunk driver, victims will often sue the driver for compensation. In some situations, they may also have the ability to sue the bar where the driver was drinking prior to getting on the road.

When is the Bar That Served a Drunk Driver Liable For Traffic Accidents That Result?

Under California’s Civil Code Section 1714, victims of accidents by a drunk driver will have a difficult time obtaining compensation from the bartenders and bar owners. This law indicates that people are responsible for themselves and their willful acts. Liability doesn’t fall with the parties that furnished the alcohol, but more with the party that partook in drinking the alcohol.

The law places blame directly on the individual who caused an accident, not on bars, restaurants, or private individuals who served alcohol. These entities cannot be found guilty of a felony and can not be held liable to pay compensation to victims that are injured by their intoxicated guests. 

Section D of the code provides an exception to these protections. Adults who serve alcohol to minors, those individuals not of legal age to drink (under 21) can be found liable if the minor:

  • Suffers injuries while intoxicated
  • Causes injuries or death while intoxicated

Businesses who serve a person with a known history of issues with alcohol or a person who is drunk may be liable under the California Business and Professions Code section 25602 (a). A business who gives or sells alcohol to a “habitual common drunkard or to any obviously intoxicated person is guilty of misdemeanor.” Bars, restaurants, businesses, and private parties will not face felony charges but if they are charged with a misdemeanor, expensive fines and potential jail time can result.

What Should You Do if You are Charged With a Misdemeanor in San Diego?

Can California Bars Be Liable For Accidents By Drunk Driving PatronsIf you are looking at misdemeanor charges you need a solid and competent defense strategy. The San Diego criminal defense lawyers at the Coastal Legal Center is one of the top 100 criminal defense lawyers in Southern California. The California DUI lawyers at the Coastal Legal Center know that every person’s case is different and requires time and attention to build an effective defense. Contact the Southern California criminal defense attorneys at the Coastal Legal Center today at (619) 231- 0724 to schedule your free consultation.