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What Are Connecticut's Dram Shop Laws?

What Are Connecticut's Dram Shop Laws?

In normal cases, when one person injures another, the person who caused the injury is liable for the damages and losses that the injured person suffers. However, that’s not always the case—when alcohol is involved, the establishment who initially sold it to the intoxicated individual could also find themselves facing a lawsuit from the injured person. This statute is known as Connecticut’s “dram shop law” and is found in Connecticut General Statutes section 30-102. On this blog, we’ll explain exactly how this works in Connecticut and how you could use it to your advantage if you’re injured by an intoxicated individual.

How Connecticut’s Dram Shop Laws Work

To put it simple, our state’s dram shop laws state that a vendor who sells alcohol to someone, who then becomes intoxicated and goes and injures someone, that establishment could be liable for some of the damages and losses that occur as a result of that injury. The law makes no distinction or difference whether or not the intoxicated individual was under or over the age of 21.

An Example Case

Let’s take a look at a case where you might see these laws come in to play. Say a patron goes to a bar, where they consume several drinks. They remain on their best behavior the entire time, but after a while it becomes obvious to the bartender that they are having trouble keeping up with the sports on television, their speech is becoming slurred, and they stumble quite a lot when they get up to use the restroom. Nonetheless, the bar keeps serving them drinks. When the game finishes, the patron finishes their last drink, pays their tab, and leaves. They get into their car, drive off, and a mile later they fail to stop at a red light and crash into someone in an intersection.

In this instance, the bar which served the alcohol could find themselves in trouble. However, there’s a strong chance they may not be. Dram shop law in Connecticut requires there to be more than just mere negligence in order to be convicted—they must “recklessly” or “intentionally” continue to give someone alcohol in order for there to be a case. This is usually the sticking point, as proving recklessness or intention can be difficult. Thus, the driver injured in the accident with the bar patron may not be able to hold the bar responsible, unless they can prove that the bar was reckless in continuing to serve the patron who then injured them.

It’s also important to remember that this liability does not replace the liability of the intoxicated individual for their actions—if you cause injury to someone else while inebriated, you can and will likely be responsible for your actions. Those who have suffered this injury may simply have two different parties they can pursue in order to recover damages.

Social Host Laws

Often related to dram shop laws are “social host” laws, which essentially say that if you supply someone with alcohol and they then cause an injury to another person, you could be held liable for the damages they cause as you were the one who supplied them with that alcohol. However, Connecticut does not have social host laws. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the actions of an intoxicated party guest coming back to haunt you should they injure someone else.

However, you aren’t necessarily free from legal consequences entirely. This is because Connecticut’s criminal laws make it a misdemeanor to provide alcohol to those under the age of 21 “knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence.” Likewise, the law also requires social hosts to make “reasonable efforts” to prevent any minors from gaining access to alcohol while they are hosting a social gathering. Therefore, if you do supply a minor with alcohol, even if it wasn’t by your intention, and they do injure someone, you could face criminal consequences for providing it, even if you thought you had made reasonable efforts to prevent them from obtaining the alcohol.

If you have been injured as a result of the actions of an intoxicated individual, call Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa, PC at (203) 583-8299 and speak with one of our Waterbury personal injury attorneys today!

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