man drunk at table


When someone over-serves alcohol to a person, even after they were visibly drunk, they become a danger to everyone around them. When an overly intoxicated person injures someone, the party which overserved them is subject to New Jersey dram shop liability law. Who is responsible for dram shop liability, however? Do dram shop laws in New Jersey only apply to bars?

dram shop liability

New Jersey Dram Shop Liability

In the state of New Jersey, the dram shop liability law is designed to hold those who over-serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals accountable for their actions, and the damage and injury these actions caused. Many people mistakenly believe that they may only charge bars, clubs, or other venues and premises with a license to sell alcohol with dram shop liability claims. This is inaccurate. Dram shop liability statutes also apply to all “social hosts”.

What is a “Social Host”?

A social host, according to the law, is the individual who provided the alcohol which they served to the intoxicated individual. Under New Jersey law, a social host does not necessarily need to be: a bar; tavern; or some other licensed premises. A social host includes the host of a party; a homeowner who is having a few friends and family over; or anyone else who provides alcohol to guests or patrons, regardless of whether they exchanged money.

Proving Dram Shop Negligence

For dram shop liability to be proven, prosecutors must be able to show that the social host acted with negligence by providing an overly intoxicated individual with more alcohol than they should. However, this requires proof that the host knew the individual was intoxicated or had reason to believe that they were drunk. Proving these criteria shows that the defendant was negligent or didn’t exercise caution; to limit an “unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm.”

How to Protect Against Dram Shop Liability

dram shop liability

The best way to protect against potential claims is to be vigilant. Regardless of whether you own a bar or restaurant, or if you just want to host a house party or gathering; ensure that you are aware of the ramifications of overserving intoxicated individuals. If you own a business, make sure you train your staff. Educate them about the dangers, as well as the warning signs of an intoxicated person. It is also critical to remember this even if you are having a few buddies over to watch the game. Therefore, if you are providing beer, wine, or liquor to your guests, you are responsible for their actions; under New Jersey law.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Dram Shop Attorney Today

If you are the victim of a drunk driver or were injured by an individual who you believe was over-served alcohol, it is imperative that you contact a knowledgeable New Jersey dram shop attorney. New Jersey law allows for the claiming of compensation for the social host who was legally responsible for overserved people; at their premises, home, or other location, as well as the intoxicated person. Contact the dram shop liability experts at the Law Offices of James C. DeZao today at (973) 358-6134.