Drunk woman in car


When a drunk driver injures someone, the person who sustained injuries can sue for compensation. For their emotional distress, medical bills and time off work. This process is what we call a dram shop liability law. These laws aim to hold dram shops or licensed venues that sell alcohol to account for their actions. But, does it only work for those injured by drunk drivers? Can drunk drivers also sue a bar under New Jersey dram shop law?

First-Party Dram Shop Liability

dram shop law

In the State of New Jersey, dram shop law is divided into two distinct types of liability: first-person and third-person liability. Third-person liability is any instance where an over-served person caused an accident that resulted in injury to another person. First-person, on the other hand, refers to a situation where the person who sustained an injury is the individual who they over-served alcohol to. 

First-person dram shop liability law in New Jersey, therefore, relates to any injury a drunk driver sustained for which they are holding the social host liable. A social host is usually the party. Be it a bar, restaurant, club, or private residence, which provided the drunk person with too much alcohol.

Can a Drunk Driver Sue the Bar That Over-Served Them?

So, can a bar face a dram shop liability suit from a drunk driver that suffers injuries after drinking too much? While the answer is yes, it is not a cut and dry as that. First-party dram shop liability cases tend to be more difficult to prove than third-party claims; as many juries tend to side with the social hosts believing that individuals injured as a result of drinking too much should be held responsible for their actions.

That’s not to say that first-person dram shop liability claims are never successful. One area where New Jersey juries tend to rule against dram shops and social hosts is with minors. First-person liability claims are especially likely to succeed against licensed establishments who over-serve a minor; as the courts view the initial serving of these individuals as a negligent act on the part of the premises. 

dram shop law

To prove dram shop liability in the case of a minor being over-served, you must be able to provide examples of the negligence of the social host. Examples of such negligence include:

  • No identification to prove the staff requested proof of age
  • The person served was visibly intoxicated
  • Staff served a person after closing time
  • They knew someone was likely to become drunk from the amount of alcohol being ordered and served. 

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Dram Shop Liability Lawyer

Because of the complexity of first-person dram shop liability claims, as well as the difficulty in proving you were the victim of the negligence of social host or premises if you sustain an injury, it is essential that you contact an experienced dram shop liability attorney right away. 

Speak with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney today at the Law Offices of James C. DeZao, P.A. Our attorneys have the expertise and determination to help you fight your claim and get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at (973) 358-6134 for a free consultation.