Georgia Dram Shop Act on liquor liability and social host liability (O.C.G.A. § 51-1-40)

Legal Commentary . This Georgia dram shop law protects injured parties where their injuries, death or damages are caused by the intoxication of a person that was served alcohol by a dram shop (or a social host at a social engagement). The Georgia Dram Shop Act gives the injured third party (or family or estate of) a cause of action against the dram shop (or social host) for selling, furnishing or serving to a minor, or continuing to sell, furnish or serve alcohol to the person of age that then drives, when such person then drove and injured, damaged or caused the death of the third party. Other states may recognize a difference between an action against a dram shop and a social host for their liability in injuries, death or damages to a third party; however the State of Georgia does not separate these as separate claims, therefore the Georgia Dram Shop Act applies to social host liability claims in Georgia. As an experienced Atlanta dram shop attorney, Scholle Law can represent you in your dram shop liability claim and ensure you or the estate of your loved one recover fully for the injuries, damages or wrongful death resulting dram shop or social host liability .

Subsection (a) of Georgia’s Dram Shop Act includes a declaration by the Georgia General Assembly recognizing that the consumption of alcohol by an intoxicated consumer is the proximate cause of any injury, including death and property damage, inflicted by the intoxicated consumer upon himself or upon another and therefore the victim of such injuries, death or damages should pursue their claim for injuries against the drunk driver, unless the required elements in subsection (b) for a dram shop or social host liability claim are met.

Subsection (b) is the meat of the Georgia Dram Shop Act as it outlines the two kinds of dram shop or social host liability actions possible in Georgia and what the plaintiff must prove to hold a dram shop or social host liable for injuries, death or damages. The two types of dram shop liability claims include (1) a claim against a dram shop or social host for selling, furnishing or serving alcohol to a minor consumer the dram shop or social host knew would soon be driving and (2) a claim against a dram shop or social host for selling, furnishing or serving alcohol to an adult consumer that was “noticeably intoxicated” and known to soon be driving. “Noticeably intoxicated” and soon to be driving have been interpreted by Georgia Courts and explained by Scholle Law.

Subsection(c) provides a defense to the dram shop or social host in the case of a dram shop (or social host) liability action with a minor consumer. If the dram shop or social host can prove it was furnished with and acted in reliance on an identification of the minor consumer showing the minor consumer was not a minor, this shall be rebuttable proof that the alcoholic beverages were not furnished, sold or served to the minor consumer willfully, knowingly and unlawfully. This subsection (c) directs the reader of the statute to Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 3-3-23(d).

The last subsection clarifies that only if the person owning the premises is present and gives consent to serve alcohol to the consumer, minor or noticeably intoxicated consumer of age, can the owner of the premises be held liable under the Georgia Dram Shop Act. Excluded from the requirement for presence and consent is a business is licensed to sell alcohol. If the business is licensed to sell alcohol, then the owner of the premises can still be liable under the Georgia Dram Shop Act regardless if the owner of the premises was present and gave his/her consent.

Scholle Law can represent you in your dram shop liability claim to receive due compensation for your injuries or damages, or the wrongful death of your loved one, resulting from a dram shop or social host violating Georgia’s Dram Shop Act. Scholle Law has two decades of experience in representing plaintiffs like you in wrongful death,catastrophic injury, dram shop liability, personal injury, and estate cases. See full text below:

Section 51-1-40 “Liability for acts of intoxicated persons”

(a) The General Assembly finds and declares that the consumption of alcoholic beverages, rather than the sale or furnishing or serving of such beverages, is the proximate cause of any injury, including death and property damage, inflicted by an intoxicated person upon himself or upon another person, except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Code section.

(b) A person who sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury, death, or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, including injury or death to other persons; provided, however, a person who willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle, or who knowingly sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle, may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person when the sale, furnishing, or serving is the proximate cause of such injury or damage. Nothing contained in this Code section shall authorize the consumer of any alcoholic beverage to recover from the provider of such alcoholic beverage for injuries or damages suffered by the consumer.

(c) In determining whether the sale, furnishing, or serving of alcoholic beverages to a person not of legal drinking age is done willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, evidence that the person selling, furnishing, or serving alcoholic beverages had been furnished with and acted in reliance on identification as defined in subsection (d) of Code Section 3-3-23 showing that the person to whom the alcoholic beverages were sold, furnished, or served was 21 years of age or older shall constitute rebuttable proof that the alcoholic beverages were not sold, furnished, or served willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully.

(d) No person who owns, leases, or otherwise lawfully occupies a premises, except a premises licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages, shall be liable to any person who consumes alcoholic beverages on the premises in the absence of and without the consent of the owner, lessee, or lawful occupant or to any other person, or to the estate or survivors of either, for any injury or death suffered on or off the premises, including damage to property, caused by the intoxication of the person who consumed the alcoholic beverages.