If my son took my car without permission and totalled it because he was overserved at a bar, what are my rights?

He spent all day and night at a bar and was clearly intoxicated by 2 am. This a case of the bar overserving. Do I have a case against the bar? And when he returned to the same bar to get his billfold that someone found, some stupid bartender told him she couldn’t serve him because she might overserve him. She did this in a [email protected]$$ manner because I talked to some people about bringing a lawsuit against the bar to replace my car. This bar has video surveillance and have several witnesses who tried to get the keys but believed him when he said he would walk. His BAC was .208

Asked on September 24, 2012 under Accident Law, South Dakota


Leigh Anne Timiney / Timiney Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Many states have what are called "Dram Shop" laws which can make an establishment responsible for damages that may occurr as a result of the illegal sale or serving of alcohol. These laws can also make the bar liable to anyone who is then later damaged as a result of a drunk individual who was overserved by a bar.  These laws generally do not offer protection to the owner of the vehicle the drunk individual was driving, however there are some very narrow exceptions.  That being said, the scope of dram shop laws vary from state to state.  While most states have some form of dram shop protection, some states do not.  You would be best served by contacting an attorney in your area and seeking a consultation.  He or she will be able to hear all of the facts of your case and give you an informed opinion with respect to your options and what your particular state's dram shop laws cover. 

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