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N.C. Dram Shop Law- Liability For Serving Drunk Drivers

When a person is injured or killed in an auto accident with a drunk driver, the drunk driver’s car insurance policy and other coverage or assets are almost always insufficient to pay the full amount of damages. A good car accident lawyer can explain how in some cases in North Carolina, a personal injury victim or the estate of someone wrongfully killed may be able to seek compensation from the store, bar or restaurant that provided alcohol to the intoxicated driver.

North Carolina law regarding the regulation of liquor sales allows an injured person to sue stores, bars, restaurants or a local Alcoholic Beverages Control Board based on three factors:

  • They negligently sold or furnished beer, wine, liquor or other alcoholic beverages to an underage person or a person who was noticeably or visibly intoxicated;
  • The unlawfully sold beverages caused the person to become impaired; and
  • The impaired driver’s negligent driving was a proximate cause of the injury

The statute clearly states that the underage or impaired driver or a person who aided or abetted in getting the liquor cannot seek compensation for their own injuries. Like some other states, North Carolina’s law also allows drivers or passengers who are injured by a drunk driver to seek damages from a social host who negligently served alcohol. Social host liability may be based on providing alcohol to an underage person or to a person who is visibly impaired.

People who suffer serious injuries in a car or truck accident involving alcohol or drug use should assess the full requirements for compensation and understand the importance of seeking damages from every potentially liable party. A car wreck attorney can explain the latest legal developments as well as common law rights, and discuss a potential client’s prospects for recovery in an initial consultation.


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