Are North Carolina Bars Liable for Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers?

December 14, 2020 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
Are North Carolina Bars Liable for Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers?

North Carolina Dram Shop Laws

A “dram shop law” is a law that holds bars or other establishments responsible for over-serving drivers who injure others in a drunk driving accident. Specifically, in our state, the North Carolina dram shop law states that you may sue a bar or other establishment that served alcohol to a drunk driver that injured you in an auto accident. However, these cases are very complicated and the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer is highly recommended.

"Can I Sue a Bar for Serving Alcohol to a Drunk Driver Who Injured Me?”

Victims of drunk driving accidents often ask our attorneys this important question about "host liability." In North Carolina, an injured party may sue a bar or other establishment for contributing to a drunk driving accident when:

  • The bar, ABC store or other “social host” sold or otherwise furnished alcohol to a “noticeably or visibly intoxicated” person
  • The bar, ABC store or other “social host” sold or otherwise furnished alcohol to a person under the legal drinking age of 21

In cases where an individual (otherwise known as a “social host”) — and not an establishment — provided the alcohol to either of the types of people listed above, that individual can also be held liable in certain situations.

In these cases, under the doctrine of "vicarious liability," a social host can be held liable for a drunk driving accident if it can be proven that:

  • They served alcohol to the driver
  • They knew the driver was intoxicated
  • They knew the driver would be driving immediately after leaving the event
When Are Bars Liable for an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver - Riddle & Brantley

If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident and believe a bar or other establishment is liable, please call 1-800-525-7111 for a FREE consultation with an experienced injury lawyer.

We will evaluate your claim and help determine if you have a valid “host liability” claim.

Justice Counts for those injured in drunk driving accidents and we would love to help you seek justice and compensation if we can.

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.

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Challenges in Dram Shop and Host Liability Cases in North Carolina

Despite the North Carolina dram shop law stating that bars, ABC stores, and other “social hosts” may be held liable for accidents caused by drunk drivers, it can be very challenging to prove negligence.

Vicarious Liability and Drunk Driving Accidents - Riddle & Brantley

In particular, it can be hard to prove that a bar or “social host” knew that a person was intoxicated when it sold him or her alcohol.

It can also be difficult to prove that the sale or provision of alcohol to the driver directly caused the accident.

Those seeking to hold a bar or other establishment accountable for a drunk driving accident must also show that the alcohol caused the driver to become impaired, and that the impairment resulted in the accident.

How to Prove Liability in a North Carolina Dram Shop Case

Holding a bar, restaurant, ABC store, or other “social host” liable for injuries suffered in a drunk driving accident in North Carolina can be extremely challenging. These cases are complex, and in general, liability is only proven through the efforts of an experienced car accident lawyer.

A significant amount of evidence must be collected to hold a bar or other establishment liable for a drunk driving accident, such as:

  • Sales receipts
  • Credit or debit card records
  • Surveillance camera video footage
  • Witness testimony
  • Social media posts

Investigating the Accident

"Dram shop" and "host liability" cases in North Carolina can be extremely complicated and require a significant amount of evidence to pursue successfully. In these cases, experienced investigators can help collect evidence, interview witnesses, and strengthen your claim. At Riddle & Brantley, we have retired law enforcement officers on staff who can help investigate your dram shop claim and work with our drunk driving injury attorneys to build the strongest case possible.

If you've been injured by a drunk driver and believe a bar, other establishment, or social host's negligence was a contributing factor, don't wait — call 1-800-525-7111 today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can start investigating the case immediately and help improve the chances that you can recover compensation.

Have You Been Injured by a Drunk Driver in North Carolina?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation — and you may have a claim against the bar, establishment, or “social party” that served alcohol to the driver.

For a FREE consultation with a North Carolina car accident lawyer handling claims involving drunk driving, please call 1-800-525-7111. 

There is no obligation and you won’t pay any upfront costs or attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive financial compensation.

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.

“They made a hard time in my life easier to endure.”

-Melissa C., Riddle & Brantley client

Our team is led by Gene Riddle, a North Carolina personal injury lawyer who has been serving clients across the state since 1985. He has been recognized by many prestigious organizations and awards, including:

  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • The National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Super Lawyers
$600+ million recovered since 2000 alone.

He is also a recipient of the Litigator Award and has an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the organization’s highest rating for attorneys (see disclaimer below).

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today for a FREE consultation with an experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer handling NC dram shop claims for injuries caused by a drunken driver.

There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless you do. You won’t pay a dime in attorney fees unless we win compensation for you.

Call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your case.


*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.

*** Disclaimer: An attorney must meet certain requirements to join these organizations or receive these awards. For more information on Membership Criteria for Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100, The National Association of Distinguished Counsel, AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, the Litigator Award, and other memberships, awards, and accolades, please visit our Membership Criteria page. These awards and memberships should not be construed as a promise or guarantee of a similar result. Each case is different and must be evaluated separately.