N.J.: Drunk drivers can sue bars that served them

In 1997 the New Jersey legislature enacted a law stating that a convicted drunk driver “shall have no cause of action for his or her injuries,” but a state appeals court decided that was no reason not to allow such a driver to sue the drinking establishment that allegedly should have cut him off earlier. An earlier appeals case had allowed such suits against “social hosts” such as party-givers. [AnnMarie McDonald/NJLRA, Henry Gottlieb/NJLJ]


  • As a frequent host of social gatherings in my own home, it is this kind of story that keeps me up at night. My guests may over-imbibe at my home, or continue drinking elsewhere after they leave. And though I might have some concern for family members, I wouldn’t be too troubled if friends-of-friends were arrested on DUI charges after leaving a party at my home. I might even make feeble attempts to assist the more likable ones with bail funds. But the prospect of facing liability myself for the irresponsability of my guests from those they might injure, leaves me with chills.

  • That’s ridiculous. Next you’ll tell me that alcohol manufacturers are also partially responsible for people drinking and driving.

  • This has been the case in Ontario for quite a while now. However, it’s not a lawsuit the offending bar can face: the province can charge the bar with (at worst)a criminal offense or (at best) loss of the ability to serve alcohol. I was a bouncer at a local nightclub for some time and this was one of our greatest fears — that someone would get tanked and drive, kill someone, and we would get our liquor license pulled. Mind you, liquor licensing laws are much stricter here than in the US (despite 19 being the legal age).

  • It is interesting that society will now prosecute the law abiding citizens while equally defending the egregious actions of the real criminals – at all societal costs. Where are their heads at?