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DUI Accidents in Washington: Can a Bar or Restaurant Be Held Liable?

February 18, 2020 – Matt Albrecht

DUI Accidents in Washington: Bar or Restaurant Be Held Liable?

Drunk driving accidents happen far too often. According to data provided by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), nearly half of all fatal accidents in the state involve an intoxicated driver. Each year, thousands of people are injured in DUI crashes. 

To be sure, the drunk driver is responsible for their own actions. At the same time, other parties may also be at fault. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident with a drunk driver, you may be able to hold the bar, restaurant, or social host who furnished them alcohol liable. 

In Washington, bars, restaurants, establishments, and even private hosts can sometimes be held required to pay compensation to a DUI accident victim. This is done under the state’s dram shop laws. Here, our Spokane DUI accident injury attorneys provide an overview of dram shop liability in Washington.  

Dram Shop Liability in Washington: Minors and Obviously Intoxicated People

For many years, Washington’s dram shop laws only covered underage patrons—meaning a bar could only be held liable for a drunk driving accident if they served a minor. However in 2004, the Supreme Court of Washington expanded the state’s dram shop laws to cover obviously intoxicated patrons (Barrett v. Lucky Seven Saloon Inc). Bars, clubs, restaurants, and other commercial vendors may be held civilly liable for a DUI accident if

  1. The crash was caused by an underage person who they served alcohol; or
  2. The crash was caused by an obviously intoxicated person who they served additional alcohol. 

Social Host Liability Claims: Minors

Washington also has a social host liability law which is similar to, but distinct from the state’s dram shop laws. As a general rule, a private social host can only be held liable for another person’s drunk driving accident if the person is underage. For example, if a Spokane parent provides alcohol to high school students and then one of those teenagers gets into a serious drunk driving crash, that parent may be held liable for the accident.

Dram Shop/Social Host Liability Claims are Complex: Investigation is Required

If you or your loved one was injured in a drunk driving crash, it is imperative that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A comprehensive investigation is needed into the precise cause of the accident. In many cases, it is not immediately obvious if a bar, restaurant, or social host may bear liability for the wreck. Our Spokane, WA dram shop law attorneys will help you and your family identify all defendants who may be responsible for the crash. 

Contact Our Spokane, WA Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys Right Away

At‌ ‌Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Spokane DUI accident lawyers have the skills and legal knowledge needed to help you hold negligent bars and restaurants liable under Washington’s dram shop laws. To get a free, no strings attached review of your case, please contact our law firm now. From our office location in Spokane, we handle drunk driving accident claims throughout Eastern Washington. 


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