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Liquor Liability: What Every Patron Should Know

When enjoying a night on the town, the last thing you want to think about is the legal implications of an evening involving alcohol. Yet, understanding liquor liability is crucial if you frequent venues where alcohol is served. This knowledge can protect you, your loved ones, and others from the consequences of alcohol-related incidents.

The Consumer’s Legal Responsibilities

Liquor liability: What patrons should knowBeing a responsible patron extends beyond ordering your favorite drink. It involves recognizing your limits and understanding the implications of your actions under the influence of alcohol.

  • Legal responsibility: If you become visibly intoxicated and continue drinking, know that you will be held accountable for any negative outcomes of your actions.
  • Social host liability: If you’re hosting a gathering where alcohol is served, you could be held partially responsible if any of your guests drive home under the influence and get into a drunk driving accident.
  • Risks of serving minors: It is illegal to serve alcohol to minors. Doing so carries severe penalties, including fines and possible criminal charges.
  • Knowing your limits: Building awareness of how much alcohol you can handle is crucial to keep your wits about you. Overindulgence impairs judgment and leads to risky behavior.
  • Planning a ride home: To prevent liability issues, always arrange for safe transportation after drinking. You might designate a sober driver, use public transportation, or hire a ride-sharing service.

The Establishment’s Legal Responsibilities

Venues that serve alcohol are legally responsible for ensuring they do not contribute to alcohol-related incidents. Here’s what to be aware of:

  • Dram shop liability: Establishments may be held liable if they serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated, and that person then causes harm. This is known as dram shop liability, and it’s the reason bartenders can decide to “cut off” patrons if they feel their intoxication level is getting dangerously high.
  • Underage serving: If a licensed purveyor of alcohol knowingly serves a minor an alcoholic drink, they are in violation of minor service laws and may be held liable if that individual injures themselves or another because they are intoxicated.
  • Evidence in liquor liability cases: Establishing a venue’s liability often involves collecting eyewitness testimonies, receipts showing the amount of alcohol served, surveillance footage demonstrating the patron’s behavior, and results of breath or blood tests proving the person’s intoxication level. Together, these pieces of evidence may demonstrate that an individual was over-served.

How We Can Help

Laying the blame on an establishment for an alcohol-related incident is difficult without help from a skilled liquor liability attorney. If you have been injured by an over-served patron or are caught up in another liquor liability case, Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy, LLC is here for you. We have over 70 years of legal experience, several awards to our name, and a track record for obtaining sizeable settlements for our clients. If you need legal assistance related to liquor liability, please contact us today at 862-263-0770 to schedule your free, one-hour consultation at one of our five New Jersey offices.

  • In 2022, a year in which New Jersey courts were basically closed for trials, our firm still settled almost 100 cases for in excess of 8 million dollars.
  • Discuss the firm's 2022 settlements.
  • Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
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