Dram shops in Washington State are subject to a series of laws that regulate the following:
- To whom the shop can and cannot sell alcohol
- What permits and licenses the shop must hold
- When you and your Tacoma car accident lawyer can hold a dram shop accountable for a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol
Dram Shops Must Obey Washington’s Liquor Laws
Despite its popularity, alcohol can be extremely dangerous, even fatal. Alcohol sales are, therefore, strictly regulated under Washington law. These laws, found under Title 66 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), include the following:
The Definition of “Dram Shop” in Washington State
As establishments that serve small amounts of liquor to patrons, dram shops fall under the definition of an alcohol “retailer.” Per RCW § 66.04.21, a retailer is anyone who sells alcohol to “consumers for consumption on and/or off the premises.”
Dram Shops and Liquor Permits
As stated under RCW § 66.20, any establishment that plans on selling or offering alcohol to members of the public, from a tavern to a hospital, first needs to acquire the appropriate license to do so.
If the establishment violates any laws (e.g., they used a false name or address to get the license), their permit may be suspended or revoked, and they would have to return the permit to the liquor and cannabis board.
When Dram Shops Cannot Lawfully Make Sales
Dram shops are not allowed to sell to just anyone who walks through their door. For example, RCW § 66.44.270 prohibits selling to minors, and RCW § 66.44.200 makes it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone who is or even appears to be under the influence. Signs of alcohol intoxication may include:
- Slurred speech
- Trouble maintaining balance
- Extreme mood swings (e.g., exhibiting unwarranted happiness, anger, or sadness)
Dram shop employees should not hesitate to turn away patrons who fail to meet the minimum age and sobriety requirements.
For a free legal consultation, call 206-558-5555
Washington Dram Shop Law Violations and Your Accident
When someone is hit by a drunk driver, what can they do? Among other things, they have the right to hire a personal injury attorney to help them exercise their right to sue for compensation. Drunk driving is a type of reckless driving that should not be allowed to go unpunished.
Liability in Drunk Driving Accidents in Washington State
Liability in drunk driving cases may seem straightforward: the drunk driver violated RCW § 46.61.502 by getting behind the wheel “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor,” so they are at fault.
That said, is the driver solely responsible for their condition, or did a liquor seller’s unlawful behavior contribute? If you can prove that the drunk driver acquired some or all of their alcohol illegally, then whoever sold them the alcohol may also be responsible for your injuries.
Proving a Dram Shop’s Liability in a Washington Car Crash
A car accident law firm can investigate your drunk driving accident and figure out where the at-fault driver got their liquor. Evidence that could prove a case against a dram shop includes:
- Security camera footage of the drunk driver entering or receiving liquor from the dram shop despite exhibiting symptoms of intoxication
- Receipts from the dram shop found on the drunk driver’s person
- Testimony from dram shop patrons or employees who remember seeing the drunk driver enter the shop and/or receive service there
- A statement or confession from the drunk driver indicating that they were served at the dram shop
Holding Dram Shops Accountable Under Washington Law
Per RCW § 4.16.080, you have the right to begin a lawsuit at any time within three years of your accident. Three years should be enough time for you to:
- Take appropriate post-accident action, including calling the police and getting medical help
- Decide how and if you want to hold all of the parties who caused your accident responsible for their reckless behavior
- Find a car accident attorney who can inform you of your rights, collect evidence against a negligent dram shop, and pursue the damages you deserve
- Begin the process of seeking a fair settlement from the insurer and/or taking the liable parties to court in pursuit of a jury award
Why Washington State Dram Shop Laws Are Important
It is a dram shop’s responsibility to keep their patrons safe. Selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated or underage customers is very dangerous because:
- It increases the risk of alcohol poisoning: Drinking too much, as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) warns, shuts down the body’s vital functions. This can result in brain damage or even death.
- Minors have less driving experience: Drunk driving is never safe, no matter your age or how many years you have been driving. However, minors have so little experience with both drinking and driving that they pose a special danger to themselves and others.
- Drunk driving accidents can be fatal: The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) reports that drivers affected by alcohol or other drugs caused 314 crashes in 2021 alone. This represents a nine-year high.
Your Right to Collect Compensation in Washington State Is Also Important
When a dram shop, a drunk driver, or anyone else fails to obey the law, they can do serious damage—and they should be held accountable for all of the harm they have caused. By filing a lawsuit against all of the parties liable for your drunk driving crash, you are:
- Exerting your right to get compensation and reimbursement for everything the accident has cost you
- Ensuring that the liable parties are penalized for their actions and forced to acknowledge the consequences of their misbehavior
- Demonstrating to other would-be liable parties that they cannot get away with flouting laws as important as those regulating alcohol sales and consumption in Washington State
Our Washington Lawyers Can Help You With a Case Involving Dram Shop Laws
Did a dram shop sell alcohol to someone who went on to cause a serious accident? The shop owner may be partly liable for your injuries. Call Jackman Law Firm today to learn more about Washington State’s dram shop laws and your rights. We offer free case assessments to all callers and are available to our clients 24/7.