Click here to learn what Washington State dram laws say about pursuing multiple liability claims when you are injured in a drunk driving crash.

Holding Suppliers of Alcohol Accountable for Drunk Drivers’ Actions

In the state of Washington, it is illegal for any person to sell or give alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 or to anyone who is visibly intoxicated. Under these laws, any person or establishment who provides alcohol to a minor or to an intoxicated person can be held partially accountable if that person then causes harm to another person. Known as dram shop claims, the purpose of these laws is to not only punish the supplier of the alcohol after an injury or death results, but to discourage people from providing alcohol to those who are likely to cause harm.

Supplying Alcohol to Underage Drinkers

The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. This age restriction is partly due to the fact that minors are more likely to be reckless when drinking alcohol. Minors are just not responsible enough to monitor their alcohol intake, think about potential consequences of drinking too much, or make reasonable decisions when intoxicated. Since maturity and responsibility are already in question, when a minor becomes intoxicated and crashes, who is at fault? Is it the fault of the minor or the person who illegally allowed the minor to become impaired?

Washington state recognizes that alcohol vendors or private social hosts who served alcohol to a minor can be held accountable if that minor causes a serious DUI accident. The Revised Code of Washington section 66.44.270 states that it is unlawful for:

  • Any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to a minor or permit any minor to consume liquor on his premises.
  • Any person under the age of twenty-one years to possess, consume, or otherwise acquire liquor.
  • A person under the age of twenty-one to be in a public place, or motor vehicle in a public place, while exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor.

Under these terms, a person injured by an intoxicated minor can file a civil lawsuit for damages against the person who illegally sold or supplied alcohol to the driver.

Supplying Alcohol to a Visibly Intoxicated Person

In 2004, Washington passed new legislation that prohibits the sale or distribution of alcohol to “any person apparently under the influence of liquor,” not just minors. Under this law, victims who are injured by an intoxicated person who was served by a social host or vendor when already visibly intoxicated may be able to file a claim against the driver as well as his alcohol supplier.

For more information on DUI liability and multiple claim options, fill out our convenient contact form to set up a free one-on-one consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss all of your concerns and address your questions in person. While you wait for your appointment, feel free to browse our extensive library of informative articles and blogs.


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Bellevue Office
11900 NE 1st Street
Suite 300
Bellevue, WA 98005
Phone: (425) 289-1990
Fax: (425) 289-1991
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Offices

Bellevue Office
11900 NE 1st Street
Suite 300
Bellevue, WA 98005
Phone: (425) 289-1990
Fax: (425) 289-1991