As the owner of a licensed establishment serving alcohol in New York, you can face severe penalties if someone accuses you of contributing to a drunk driving accident. The Law Firm of Connors & Connors, P.C., has over 60 years of experience representing establishments and their insurers in cases involving dram shop liability.

If an intoxicated person injures or kills someone after leaving a licensed establishment, the establishment where the driver had been drinking may be liable for overserving. According to the New York General Obligations Law section 11-101, it is illegal to continue to sell or provide a person with alcohol once he or she is visibly intoxicated. At this point, both the establishment and its employees may become liable.

Servers are responsible for a reasonable investigation of the patron to determine whether they are visibly intoxicated. It is the server’s responsibility to cut the drinker off if he or she feels the patron has crossed the line. Signs of visible intoxication may include slurred speech, decreased motor function or lack of coordination. Serving multiple drinks in quick succession may also contribute to illegal levels of intoxication, even if the patron isn’t visibly intoxicated at the time. Everyone has different tolerance levels and visible signs of intoxication.

The establishment’s service staff is the first line of defense against liability for themselves and their employer. However, taking every action possible in preventing the service of someone who is already intoxicated is not always enough. You or your business may still face litigation. For more information, please visit our page on dram shop liability claims and defense.