Drunk Driving Accident Victims and the Dram Shop Act

Posted by Richard P. Hastings | Apr 07, 2022 | 0 Comments

Drunk Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 28 people are killed in drunk driving accidents each day in the United States. If a drunken driver has injured you or a loved one and there appears to be little or no hope of getting compensated for your injuries, there may be another payment source for your damages.

The Dram Shop Act

You may have a claim under the Connecticut Dram Shop Act, depending on the circumstances. A dram shop is a commercial establishment that sells alcoholic beverages to its patrons, such as bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and clubs. The term originates from 18th century England where “gin-shops” sold gin by the dram (or small amount). The Dram Shop Act holds these establishments liable and allows people to recover money damages for their injuries.

Dram Shop

Dram Shop Negligence

In a Connecticut Supreme Court case, which our office argued, the Court held in Craig v. Driscoll (2003) that the dram shop act allowed for a negligence claim in addition to recovery under the dram shop statute. The Court held that a separate negligence claim could be viable under certain circumstances. However, the Connecticut legislature immediately amended the statute to prohibit a negligence cause of action against a dram shop for “negligence in the sale of alcoholic liquor to a person twenty-one years of age or older.”

Although the Dram Shop Act specifically prohibits negligence actions for conduct by the act involving serving someone age 21 or older, it may be possible to bring a civil action alleging other types of conduct not covered by the act. For example, at least one Superior Court found that a social host who is an occupier of land can be liable for the negligent service of alcohol to an adult under the common law (Piontokowski v. Agan, 2009 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1927 (2009)). While there is no binding authority, it is possible that this- and other types of conduct- could be the basis of a negligence claim. 

Drunk Driving Accident Liability

The current Dram Shop Act makes a liquor seller liable to an injured third party if the seller or their employee sells liquor to an already intoxicated person. However, the act limits the damages a liquor seller must pay to injured people to $250,000, with the actual amount of liability decided in Court.

Making a Claim

To make a claim under the statute, an injured party must notify the seller of their intention to sue for damages within:

1. 120 days of the incident causing harm; or

2. 180 days of the incident causing harm in the case of death or incapacity of the injured party. 

The written notice must state:

1. The time and day of the sale and to whom it was made; 

2. The name and address of the injured party; and 

3. The time, day, and place of injury. 

Suits must be brought within one year of the sale. In addition, the act prohibits negligence actions for conduct covered by the dram shop act involving serving someone age 21 or older. (See Connecticut General Statutes section 30-102.)

If a drunk driver injured you or someone you love, it is crucial that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to make sure your rights are fully protected. 

Click here to contact our nationally-recognized team of personal injury attorneys at (203) 438-7450.

About the Author

Richard P. Hastings

Attorney Hastings concentrates his practice on personal injury and litigation. Devoted to helping those who have suffered some type of wrong, Richard P. Hastings concentrates his law practice on personal injury law.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment


Aenean lacinia bibendum nulla sed consectetur. Donec sed odio dui. Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Morbi leo risus, porta ac consectetur ac, vestibulum at eros. Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas.

Let Us Fight for You

Local Presence. Statewide Coverage.

When you choose Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP you will receive the one-on-one attention and individualized support that you deserve. Our Connecticut personal injury attorneys will not treat you as just another case number nor will we hand your case off to a paralegal.

Unlike other law firms, we will personally handle each legal aspect of your case, walking with you every step of the way. We aim to provide the highest quality representation possible. We have extensive experience and training in a variety of aspects of personal injury law. We obtain the knowledge and skill-set necessary to maximize your compensation.

Ridgefield Office
Mon: 08:30am - 05:00pm
Tue: 08:30am - 05:00pm
Wed: 08:30am - 05:00pm
Thu: 08:30am - 05:00pm
Fri: 08:30am - 05:00pm