Do the Dram Shop Laws in Indiana Apply to Social Hosts?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime in Indiana. A person convicted of drunk driving can face serious criminal punishments, including jail time, fines, probation, and interlock ignitions. However, if the drunk driver causes a DUI accident, the driver may also be liable for damages in a civil suit. While you might have already known this information, what you may not know is that the company which served the alcohol to the driver may also be responsible for injuries caused by a drunk driver after the person leaves the establishment under the state’s Dram Shop laws.

What is Dram Shop Liability?

A “dram shop” refers to a restaurant, club, bar, or other business that serves alcohol. Indiana’s dram shop laws hold a business liable for damages caused by a drunk person if the business served alcohol to a minor or to someone who is already drunk.

For example, a group of women goes to a dance club. They drink heavily and are obviously drunk, but the bartender continues to serve alcohol to the women. A woman leaves the club and slams her car into a pedestrian on the side of the road. The drunk driver is liable for the damages caused by the DUI accident. However, under Indiana’s dram shop laws, the club may also be liable for damages because it continued to serve alcohol to a person who was already intoxicated.

In addition to business and commercial establishments, Indiana’s dram shop laws apply to social hosts and private individuals. Therefore, if you hold a Labor Day Party or July Fourth Party and serve alcohol to your guests, you must be very careful to stop serving alcohol to an intoxicated guest. You should also prevent that guest from driving. If the person injures another person after leaving your home, you could be liable for damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

How Can You Avoid a Claim?

If you host a party, you can take steps to reduce the risk of a DUI accident and reduce the risk that you could be held liable in a Dram Shop lawsuit.

Some things you may want to consider include:

  • Make sure that you understand the Dram Shop Laws in Indiana and what you are required to do by law when serving alcohol. [Indiana Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5]
  • Hire a bartender for your party. As a host, you will be busy with guests. A bartender can help you watch for individuals who have had too much to drink.
  • Provide an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks and stop serving alcoholic beverages toward the end of the event.
  • Serve food throughout the entire event.
  • Arrange for alternate forms of transportation for anyone who has been drinking alcohol.
  • Consider holding your event at a business that has a liquor license and professional bartenders.

The choice to drive after drinking alcohol is a personal choice. However, as a host serving alcoholic beverages, you have a duty to act responsibly when serving alcoholic beverages. If a guest injures someone after leaving your party, you could be a party to in the civil lawsuit.

Contact an Indiana DUI Accident Attorney for Help

If you are injured in a DUI accident, the legal team of Poynter & Bucheri want to help. We have experience handling DUI accident claims and Dram Shop claims. Call 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 to request your free consultation with an Indianapolis DUI accident attorney.