Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents in Indiana and Illinois: Social Party Hosts, Bars, Restaurants


Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents in Indiana and Illinois: Social Party Hosts, Bars, Restaurants

In any motor vehicle accident where a drunk driver has caused the crash, whether he or she is driving a car, pickup, minivan, or SUV, or if they are driving a work vehicle like a delivery van, bus, or big rig semi truck, that drunk driver will face both criminal charges (DUI, manslaughter, etc.) as well as civil personal injury claims for damages sustained by the victims of the wreck. If it’s a work vehicle that the drunk driver was using at the time of the crash, then his or her employer may also be liable for injury claims.

However, in both Indiana and Illinois, there are laws in place that may extend the responsibility to others, as well, if a drunk driver gets behind the wheel and is involved in a motor vehicle accident that seriously injures or kills someone. These laws are called “dram shop laws” and they extend legal liability for the actions of an intoxicated person to those who provided the alcohol to that drunk driver.

Read them here:

Dram Shop: Bars, Restaurants, Stores Selling Alcoholic Beverages to Drunk Drivers

In both Indiana and Illinois, those in profit making enterprises that include the sale of alcoholic beverages have a responsiblity to the public. They cannot sell or serve alcohol to someone that is obviously drunk or who is under the legal age limit for drinking an alcoholic beverage. If they do, and there is a drunk driving collision, then they can be held liable for the damages sustained by the accident victims.

Vendors of alcoholic beverages in Indiana and Illinois are liable for intoxicating beverages sold to intoxicated adults and intoxicated minors.

Social Host Liability: People Hosting Parties and Events Where Alcohol is Available to Guests

Similarly, if someone hosts a retirement dinner, wedding reception, graduation celebration, birthday party, or any other festive occasion where alcoholic beverages are served to guests, then that host or hostess also undertakes a legal responsibility regarding those guests. If there is a drunk driving accident where the inebriated guest driver causes a collision with victims who are seriously injured or killed, then that host or hostess may share legal liability for the injuries and damages sustained by those accident victims.

The laws of Illinois and Indiana are not the same for social hosts who served alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver.

1. Illinois

There is NO social host liability for social hosts who serve drinks to adults and only limited liability to those who serve alcohol to minors in Illinois.

Illinois law provides:

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 740, §58/1 et seq.

(a) Any person at least 18 years of age who willfully supplies alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs to a person under 18 years of age and causes the impairment of such person shall be liable for death or injuries to persons or property caused by the impairment of such person.

(b) A person, or the surviving spouse and next of kin of any person, who is injured, in person or property, by an impaired person under the age of 18, and a person under age 18 who is injured in person or property by an impairment that was caused by alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs that were willfully supplied by a person over 18 years of age, has a right of action in his or her own name, jointly and severally, for damages (including reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses) against any person: (i) who, by willfully selling, giving, or delivering alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs, causes or contributes to the impairment of the person under the age of 18; or (ii) who, by willfully permitting consumption of alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs on non-residential premises owned or controlled by the person over the age of 18, causes or contributes to the impairment of the person under the age of 18.

2. Indiana

However, in Indiana it’s a different story. In Indiana, social hosts who serve alcoholic beverages to either group can be held accountable for any drunk driving accident that follows if certain circumstances exist.

Indiana law provides:

IC 7.1-5-10-15.5

Person furnishing alcoholic beverage; civil liability for damages; “furnish” defined
Sec. 15.5. (a) As used in this section, “furnish” includes barter, deliver, sell, exchange, provide, or give away.
(b) A person who furnishes an alcoholic beverage to a person is not liable in a civil action for damages caused by the impairment or intoxication of the person who was furnished the alcoholic beverage unless:
(1) the person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished; and
(2) the intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.
(c) If a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years of age suffers injury or death proximately caused by the person’s voluntary intoxication, the:
(1) person;
(2) person’s dependents;
(3) person’s personal representative; or
(4) person’s heirs;
may not assert a claim for damages for personal injury or death against a person who furnished an alcoholic beverage that contributed to the person’s intoxication, unless subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2) apply.
As added by P.L.80-1986, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.76-1996, SEC.1.

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