Dram shop laws exist to hold bars, liquor stores and restaurants potentially liable for injuries and deaths caused by the alcohol that they sell or serve. Thirty states have these laws on the books. In 22 of those states, a business becomes liable for their actions if they serve or sell intoxicated person alcohol and a vehicular accident subsequently takes place.
Michigan is one of the states that hold vendors liable for accidents caused by alcohol that they serve or sell to a visibly intoxicated individual. Not only does this law apply to drunk adults, but minors as well.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a dram shop claim is necessarily easy to win. Plaintiffs have to be wary of the affirmative defenses defendants may use to deny their liability for a drunk driver’s actions.
For example, they may claim that the alleged perpetrator didn’t appear to be as drunk as they ultimately proved to be. A defendant may also introduce eyewitness or video evidence of their customer’s sobriety. A retailer accused of selling alcohol to a minor may provide evidence to rebuff the allegations by providing evidence that the individual provided them with what appeared to be a valid Michigan driver’s license indicating that they were 21 years of age or older.
Dram shop laws came into being to let business owners and party hosts know that it’s not just the individuals who consume alcohol who are responsible for their actions, but that they also share in the responsibility in monitoring their guests’ activities. If you have been in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, you may be able to sue both the driver and the establishment that sold them the alcohol under Michigan’s dram shop laws. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you.