Dram shop laws are named after 18th century bars and taverns in England that sold gin by the spoonful (AKA: by the “dram.”) Most U.S. states – 43 states to be exact – have some sort of dram shop law in place, which is basically a third-party liability law that allows victims to sue the bar if it serves alcohol to the drunk driver. Louisiana is one of seven states that doesn’t abide by dram shop liability laws. So if someone gets injured or killed due to a driver’s excessive alcohol consumption, in most cases, they will have to sue the drunk driver for damages, not the bar. Below, the legal team at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown explains Louisiana dram shop laws in depth.
Our Baton Rouge lawyers have the skill and experience necessary to handle both civil and criminal drunk driving cases. If you or a loved one suffered a major injury or death due to a drunk driver’s negligence, we can help you recover financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. On the other side of the coin, if you’re facing a DUI charge, we can protect and defend your legal rights. No matter the situation, our Baton Rouge drunk driving lawyers are here to help. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation at our law firm today.
How Many Drunk Driving Deaths Occur in the U.S.?
The CDC states that 32 Americans die every day in alcohol-related car crashes. In 2020 specifically, more than 11,600 Americans died in drunk driving accidents. This tragic statistic accounts for 30% of all U.S. car crash deaths that year.
How Many Drunk Driving Deaths Occur in Louisiana?
828 Louisianans died due to drunk driving accidents in 2020 according to data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This figure represents 28% of all car accident-related deaths in Louisiana that year.
What Are Dram Shop Laws?
A dram shop law is a third-party liability law that allows victims of drunk driving accidents to file civil lawsuits against the businesses that served alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver. In other words, some states allow victims to hold dram shops – such as bars, taverns, liquor stores, etc. – legally responsible for any damages that they may suffer in a drunk driving accident. Victims can hold the drunk driver legally responsible for damages as well.
The average dram shop act differs across the 50 states. In fact, some states don’t abide by dram shop liability. But the states that do have these laws mandate that businesses that sell alcohol cannot provide alcohol to underage drinkers or those who are already very visibly intoxicated.
In order to prove fault in a dram shop case, drunk driving victims generally have to have strong evidence that the following elements occurred:
- The dram shop served alcohol to the drunk driver,
- The dram shop contributed to the driver’s intoxication,
- The intoxicated person caused the victim severe injuries or death on the roads,
- And the victim suffered a variety of damages during the drunk driving accident for which they deserve financial compensation.
Louisiana Dram Shop Laws
Louisiana is one of 7 U.S. states that does not have a dram shop law.
More specifically, Louisiana law (RS 9:2800.1) states that businesses that serve alcohol to their patrons are not legally responsible if they drive drunk and injure or kill someone off the premises. The only way that a Louisiana business could possibly be held liable in a third-party drunk driving lawsuit is if they sell alcohol to someone below the legal drinking age and that intoxicated individual injures or kills someone on the premises.
Louisiana also abides by an anti-social host liability law, which is basically the same thing as the aforementioned anti-dram shop liability law. The main difference between the two laws is that social host liability refers to non-vendors, which are people or social events that don’t have a license for alcohol sales. The same rule applies: a non-vender is only liable in a third-party drunk driving lawsuit if they sell an alcoholic beverage to an underage drinker who then injures or kills someone on the premises.
Drunk Driving Penalties in Louisiana
DWI offenders can face both criminal and civil penalties for their negligent driving. First, we’ll briefly cover the criminal penalties associated with drunk driving in Louisiana.
A first DUI offense carries the following penalties in Louisiana:
- 2 years of probation.
- 10 days to 6 months in jail.
- A maximum fine of $1,000.
- 48 hours in jail or 32 hours of community service.
- Participation in an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse program and a court-approved driver improvement educational course.
A second DUI offense carries the following penalties in Louisiana:
- A maximum fine of $1,000.
- 30 days to 6 months in jail.
- 240 hours of community service.
- Up to 6 months probation and 48 hours spent in jail
- Participation in an outpatient or inpatient substance abuse program and a court-approved driver improvement educational course.
- An ignition interlock device inside the car. This device is basically a breathalyzer, and doesn’t allow you to drive unless you’re sober.
A third DUI offense carries the following penalties in Louisiana:
- A maximum fine of $2,000.
- 1 to 5 years in jail.
- 240 hours of community service
- Up to 5 years of probation. 1 year must be spent in jail, along with community service and re-education programs.
- Possible substance abuse evaluation and completion of an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse program.
- Possible vehicle confiscation.
- If you’re allowed to keep your vehicle, you must have an ignition interlock device.
- Probation for the full length of any suspended sentence plus home incarceration for at least 6 months.
A fourth DUI offense carries the following penalties in Louisiana:
- A maximum fine of $5,000.
- 10 to 30 years in jail. Two of these years are without the benefit of suspension.
- A maximum of 5 years of probation.
- 320 hours of community service.
- At least 1 year of home incarceration.
- Vehicle confiscation and/or driver’s license suspension.
- Mandatory substance abuse evaluation.
- 4 weeks of inpatient treatment and 12 months of outpatient treatment in a substance abuse program.
Drunk Driving Accident Damages
As previously stated, drunk drivers can also face civil lawsuits for their negligence, especially if they injured or killed someone on the roads. Our Baton Rouge drunk driving accident lawyers can help victims recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitative bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity if the victim is disabled and can no longer complete their normal job duties
- Permanent scarring, disability, and disfigurement
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental health counseling bills
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral and burial expenses if the drunk driving accident results in wrongful death
Louisiana Statute of Limitations for Civil Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits
In Louisiana, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within one year of the date of the drunk driving accident. Similarly, surviving family members only have one year from the date of the drunk driving accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Louisiana. If you’re looking to hold the drunk driver accountable for their negligence, it’s best to act fast. Attempting to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit after the one year mark will result in a dismissed case.
Call a Baton Rouge Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown Today
The legal team at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown is capable of handling both civil and criminal drunk driving cases. If you or a loved one has suffered major injuries or death due to a drunk driver’s negligence, then we can help you pursue justice and compensation through a civil lawsuit. We can potentially help victims pursue justice and compensation from a dram shop as well, but only if the injuries or death were committed by an underage driver on the premises.
Our legal team can also represent and defend those facing DUI charges. No matter what your role is in the drunk driving case, our experienced lawyers can help. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown today.