Historically, in South Carolina , there was no common law cause of action holding restaurants and bars responsible for injuries by drunk drivers who consumed alcohol at their establishments. In numerous states, dram shop acts were legislated which provided remedies to those injured by drunk drivers who were over served at restaurants and bars. South Carolina enacted “Beverage Control Regulations” which included criminal penalties for alcohol served by restaurants and bars to intoxicated individuals. Later, South Carolina created a civil cause of action based on a violation of South Carolina Code 61-4-580(2) and 61-6-2220 which prohibit the knowing sale of beer or wine to an intoxicated person or the sale of alcoholic beverages to intoxicated persons.
Prior to 2007, South Carolina courts seemed to require an injured person seeking redress against a restaurant or bar to prove that such an establishment “knowingly” sold alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person, Tobias v. Sports Club, Inc., 332 S.C. 90, 504 S.E.2d. 318 (1998). In 2010, our supreme court extended responsibility for bartenders of such establishments by holding, “The proper standard, … is whether the bartenders negligently served alcoholic beverages by a person who, by his appearance or otherwise, would lead a prudent man to believe that the person was intoxicated.” The Court went on to say that, “In our view, ‘knew or should have known’ is the articulation of the objective ‘reasonable person’ standard.” Hartfield v. Getaway Lounge and Grill, Inc., 388 S.C. 407, 419, 697 S.E.2d. 558, 564 (2010). Continue reading