Do Dram Shop Laws Apply in Washington?

Categories: Personal Injury

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Washington Injury Lawyers Protecting those Injured by Drunk Drivers

For years, the state of Washington has considered social host responsibility pivotal when a minor injures someone in a drunken driving accident. However, in 2004, the state expanded the statute to cover adult offenders as well. Today, the state can hold the host or establishment responsible for a drunken driving accident if they serve alcohol to someone apparently under the influence or “obviously intoxicated.”

Therefore, if a drunken driver causes an accident and that driver was over-served at a restaurant or even a private party, the host and driver alike could be held responsible for the incident.

Dram Shop Laws: What are they for Washington State?

The Revised Code of Washington Section 66.44.270 focuses on the dram shop laws for intoxicated minors. All vendors are strictly prohibited from serving alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 years. If a person is injured because of an intoxicated minor, the statute allows for the injured party to seek damages via a civil claim against the establishment.

Barrett v. Lucky Seven Saloon

In 2004, the case of Barrett v. Lucky Seven Saloon changed the law. The Washington Supreme Court decided that a dram shop claim may be brought against a vendor serving an adult patron equally when it is apparent that person is intoxicated.

The Purpose of Dram Shop Laws

Dram shop laws were created to prevent the over-serving of alcohol to obviously intoxicated parties. When these parties are too drunk to be safe, especially while driving, they should not be served more alcohol. The primary purpose of a dram shop law is to force bartenders and establishments to prevent providing more alcohol to someone that is already inebriated – and a person that could potentially get behind the wheel.

Requirements for the Dram Shop Laws of Washington

The state has specific requirements in the statute. RCW requires that all licensed alcohol-serving establishments post their prohibition notification indicating that they will not serve alcohol to someone that appears intoxicated. Any violation of the dram shop laws puts the bartender and establishment at risk for all financial damages that result from a DUI collision.

Establishments must train their employees to recognize the signs of an intoxicated party. Signs they are required to look for include:

  • Slurred or slowed speech
  • Balance issues
  • Profanity
  • Obnoxious behavior
  • Inability to perform basic motor skills
  • Watery eyes or red eyes
  • Emotional or highly aggressive behavior

Filing a Dram Shop Lawsuit Requires an Attorney

Bars and establishments serving alcohol, as well as social hosts, can be legally responsible and financially responsible for any accidents that result from their over-serving.

Dram shop laws are not uncommon. In fact, most DUI lawsuits result in a dram shop law claim. However, these types of cases are more complicated than you might think. That is why you need to hire an attorney with experience in dram shop law claims and catastrophic accidents.

Speak with an injury advocate from Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC today by calling us at 800-925-1875 or request your free consultation online.

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Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.