Liable Parties in a Drunk Driving Accident

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on November 22, 2017

. Updated on November 20, 2023


Alcohol and KeysIf you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you have legal options for obtaining compensation for your injuries and other damages from the accident. In some cases, it may even be possible to hold multiple parties liable for the crash.

A car accident attorney at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak can guide you through the legal process and help you determine who should be held liable for your injuries. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless we win your case.

Below, we take a look at the issue of who can be held legally liable for damage resulting from a drunk driving accident.

Drunk Driver Liability

Because drunk driving can have devastating consequences, it is illegal in Indiana to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more. Anyone who is caught driving above the legal limit could face criminal charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony. A first offense conviction could include up to:

  • One year in jail
  • Two-year license suspension
  • $5,000 fine

Subsequent offenses bring harsher penalties including minimum jail time and larger fines. Drunk drivers who cause serious bodily harm or death will face even harsher penalties.

In addition to criminal charges, the drunk driver could also be held responsible for any injuries and damages the accident caused. This could include compensation for your injuries, pain, medical bills, lost time at work and other related expenses.

Dram Shop Liability

According to Indiana’s dram shop law outlined in Indiana Code 7.1-5-10-15.5, anyone who provides alcohol to an individual can be held liable for a drunk driving accident. The law states that anyone who furnished (delivered, sold, exchanged, provided or gave away) alcohol to a drunk driver could be held liable for the resulting damages if:

  • The person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person was visibly intoxicated at the time
  • The person’s intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury, death or other damages

This type of liability comes into play when a customer or patron drives a vehicle while drunk and causes a deadly or serious accident. This is true regardless of whether the driver was an adult or a minor at the time of the accident.

Dram shop liability extends to all businesses in which alcohol is served. This includes:

  • Bars
  • Taverns
  • Restaurants
  • Sports arenas
  • Theaters
  • Stores
  • Liquor shops
  • Corner markets
  • Any other establishment that serves alcohol

As long as there is evidence showing the business knew, or should have known, that the customer was intoxicated, the establishment can be found liable for the damage or death caused by the drunk driver.

Social Host Liability

In Indiana, the dram shop law also applies to social hosts, as the law encompasses those who provide alcohol in almost any situation. If the social host knew that he or she was providing alcohol to a visibly impaired individual who caused the accident, the social host could be held liable for the resulting damages.

This includes a variety of social situations, such as:

  • Weddings
  • Graduation parties
  • Football tailgates
  • Baby showers
  • Cocktail parties
  • Office parties

The social host must have knowledge that the guest drove away drunk in order to have any legal liability.

Legal Help Is Available

Have you been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver? Contact the personal injury attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak for assistance. After experiencing a traumatic event such as an accident, it can be overwhelming to figure out all of the ways in which you are entitled to compensation. We are here to help take care of all of that for you.

Our South Bend car accident lawyers will handle the legal challenges while you focus on returning your life to normal.

Contact us now by calling (844) 678-1800.

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases