Liability may come into play if someone is injured in an auto accident resulting from another’s intoxication.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…unless you’re caught driving while intoxicated or serving alcohol to someone who is caught driving while intoxicated.
Parties abound during the holidays, which means that there are more impaired drivers on the roads and more pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists at risk. Somebody who drinks, drives, and causes an auto accident in Colorado can be held liable for the damages he causes. But what about the person or business that supplied the alcohol?
Colorado’s Social Host Law
According to Colorado law, a social host — any individual or organization that hosts a social gathering — can be held liable for knowingly serving alcohol to minors but can be held liable for serving alcohol to an adult only if the adult was obviously intoxicated. The liability could come into play if the intoxicated person leaves the event in a vehicle and then injures someone on the road.
To protect themselves, potential social hosts can check whether their homeowner’s or business insurance covers this kind of liability and, if it does not, consider buying insurance coverage to host such special events as a wedding reception or graduation party.
Colorado’s Dram Shop Law
Thirty states have laws that permit licensed establishments, including restaurants, bars, and liquor stores, to be held liable for selling or providing alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication. More than two-thirds of those states, including Colorado, have laws that limit the responsibility to situations in which the establishment sold or served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual or someone under the state’s legal drinking age.
Dram shop laws, including Colorado’s, hold businesses licensed to sell alcohol liable if they sell it to a visibly intoxicated person or to a minor under age 21 who drinks and then goes on to injure someone. Under Colorado’s dram shop law, the injury need not be a foreseeable consequence of consuming alcohol for the business to be held liable, an aspect of the law that has been upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court.
In Colorado, the statute of limitations for filing a dram shop lawsuit is one year from the date of the injury. Damages usually include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Damages cannot exceed $150,000.
2019 Changes to Colorado’s Liquor Laws
In 2019, Colorado made some of the most sweeping changes to its liquor laws since prohibition.
- Consumers can now buy full-strength beer from retailers who had previously been allowed to sell only beer with 3.2 percent alcohol content.
- Consumers are not allowed to purchase beer at a self-service checkout without the assistance of an employee.
- Employees no longer have to be 21 to sell alcohol. The minimum age is now 18. The legal drinking age in Colorado is 21.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by an impaired driver, contact Colorado personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.