Intoxicated Driving Accidents – Can A Tavern Be Held Responsible? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Intoxicated Driving Accidents – Can A Tavern Be Held Responsible?


According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, impaired driving is the leading cause of death related to criminal conduct in Canada. An average of four people die each day in motor vehicle collisions in which one or more drivers test positive for alcohol or drugs. Depending upon the facts of each case, it might not only be the impaired driver who could be held responsible for causing the accident and resulting injuries. The tavern or restaurant at which the drive consumed the alcoholic beverage might also bear some of the responsibility under what has come to be known as dram shop laws in Ontario.

Dramshops and modern-day personal injury claims

“Dramshop” was a term used to describe taverns and other commercial establishments serving alcoholic beverages. You probably won’t hear the term used much today except by lawyers and judges to refer to legislation holding restaurants, taverns and other establishments responsible for limiting the drinks they serve to customers who appear to be intoxicated.

Bars, restaurants, taverns and other establishments located in Ontario must be licenced under the Liquor Licence Act to legally sell drinks containing alcohol. The law prohibits a licenced establishment from selling liquor to a person who appears to be intoxicated.

It is the responsibility of the server or bartender at a licenced establishment to make a determination whether customer is visibly intoxicated before serving a beverage containing alcohol. Serving an alcoholic beverage to someone who is intoxicated is a violation of the law and puts the establishment at risk of losing its licence. It also creates a liability issue.

Holding taverns and restaurants responsible for accidents

A commercial establishment that sells alcohol to a person who appears to be intoxicated could be held responsible in the event the customer leaves and causes an accident. An intoxicated customer could expose the tavern or restaurant to a claim for damages without ever getting behind the wheel of a car. Someone assaulted by an intoxicated person could have a claim for damages against an establishment that continued to provide drinks after the individual showed signs of intoxication.

The theory of liability that holds a bar or restaurant responsible is based upon negligence. The establishment had a duty to act reasonably by refusing to serve liquor to a person servers believed was intoxicated. The evidence must prove the staff at the establishment could reasonably foresee that an intoxicated customer could pose a danger to other people either by attempting to drive away from the location or by getting into a fight or altercation.

A personal injury lawyer consulted by someone injured by an intoxicated individual would investigate the facts to identify evidence tending to prove a tavern or restaurant acted negligently with regard to an intoxicated customer. For example, allowing an intoxicated customer to leave without making arrangements, such as calling a taxi, for the person to get home could be negligence on the part of the servers and management of a restaurant.

Ontario personal injury lawyers

If you have been injured in an accident with or through the intentional conduct of an intoxicated individual, you should consult the personal injury lawyers at about making a claim against the commercial establishment that served liquor to the person. Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation on behalf of injured accident victims throughout Ontario. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We have offices located throughout Ontario offering free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims and their families.

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