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Serving alcohol to a drunk driver could lead to liability

An Orange County, California resident injured in a car collision with a drunk driver might have a right to seek compensation from someone other than just the negligent driver. Although there are exceptions that will be discussed later in this post, someone who provides alcoholic beverages to a person who is intoxicated might be liable to an individual suffering a serious injury due to the actions of the intoxicated driver.

The California Civil Code makes it clear that merely serving alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person is not sufficient to make the server liable to a third party in the event of a drunk driving accident. The law specifically states that it is the consumption of the alcoholic beverage by the person who goes on to have an auto accident that imposes liability on the server and not merely offering the drink.

An exemption from liability exists for so-called "social hosts" who serve alcohol to their guests. Serving cocktails at a backyard barbeque will not result in liability for the host of the party should a guest or a third party suffer an injury or death related to consumption of the beverages. Hosts lose this exemption, however, if they serve alcohol to someone who is under the state legal drinking age of 21 years of age.

Any adult social host serving alcohol to an underage drinker may be held liable for damages suffered by a third party in a drunk driving accident. Where the person being provided with alcohol is under 21 years of age, merely providing the alcohol, even without proof of its consumption, is sufficient under California law to establish liability on the part of the host.

The claims created by statute against those who provide alcohol to someone who later has an auto accident are in addition to any right an accident victim might have to sue the negligent driver whose conduct caused the accident. Legal advice pertaining to a victim's right to sue for compensation for injuries suffered in car accidents should be sought from a personal injury attorney.

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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