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Drinking and Driving: Who is Responsible and When? The law expands to Convenience Stores in Georgia ~ Part 2

This is my follow up to the blog post regarding the Dram Shop Act in Georgia and it’s expansion to liability on the part of Convenience Stores in Georgia, and in Canton, GA. Prior to the case of Flores et. al. O.C.G.A. 51-1-40, the Dram Shop Act in Georgia, generally referred to liability on the part of an establishment that was licensed to sell alcoholic beverages and could be held liable if such beverages were consumed on the premises licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages and such consumption, not the sale (emphasis mine), of alcoholic beverages, is the proximate cause of any injury, including death or property damage, inflicted by an intoxicated person upon himself or upon another person.

The Dram Shop Act under O.C.G.A. 51-1-40 subsection (b) expanded this liability to include liability on the part of a person who willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages to a minor (emphasis mine), knowing such minor will soon be driving a motor vehicle or who knowingly sells, furnishes or services (emphasis mine) alcoholic beverages to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle. These parts of the Dram Shop Act were upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court in the case of Flores et. al.. The Supreme Court of Georgia in Flores et. al., however, expanded the definition of establishments, such as convenience stores as in the case of Flores et. al. and stated, “Because this statute uses the terms “sells, furnishes, or serves alcohol” in the disjunctive, it is clear that it was intended to encompass the sale of an alcoholic beverage at places other than the proverbial dram shop.”

The Supreme Court of Georgia, therefore, disagreed and overruled the Court of Appeals decision, ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs and awarded at or over a $ 1,000,000.000 verdict stating that, “Although the dram shop act makes it clear that it is the consumption of alcohol, not the selling or furnishing, which leads to injuries in this state, it goes on to create two exceptions to the rule for liability purposes: an individual may be liable for injuries if he furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is underage, knowing he will soon be driving; and if he furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages to a noticeably intoxicated adult, knowing he will soon be driving. Liability is not imposed under either one of these exceptions, however, unless the furnishing or serving of the alcoholic beverage is the proximate cause of injury. OCGA § 51-1-40. We find these statutory requirements to be straightforward and under the plain language of the statute are equally applicable to convenience stores (emphasis mine) and traditional dram shops.”

As the Courts in Georgia continue to expand the definition of the Dram Shop Act and hold those who drink and drive as well as the establishments, including convenient stores, bars, restaurants, potentially hosts and hostesses at parties, and others responsible for the acts of those to whom they sell, serve, or furnish alcohol whether to minors or adults, it becomes clear that this is no longer being tolerated under the law or in our society. Driving and alcohol do not mix nor more than weapons and children do not mix as stated in my previous post. As we embrace this wonderful time of the year, take caution when engaging in holiday festivities so as to not create a tragedy in yours or someone’s else life by the needless act of drinking and driving which can cause serious bodily injury or even death.

We are experts in this matter, and if you or a loved one have ever been involved in an accident of this or any other sort in any way, then please kindly feel free to Contact Us directly at 770-865-8654 or (813) 363-6664. Nobody should ever suffer from the negligence of another without just compensation; never. Please be safe this holiday season from Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates.

For More Information you may see the following current code and, please, remind yourself and others of it often; Don’t Drive and Drive.