Who Is Liable in a Drunk Driving Accident?

St. Louis Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers

Who is liable in a drunk driving accident? If you've been injured by a drunk driver, you may be wondering how to go about getting compensation for your injuries and holding the negligent parties responsible. Call Halvorsen Klote's St. Louis and Southern Illinois drunk driving accident lawyers today at 877-51-HKLAW or contact us online for a free consultation.

Any personal injury case centers around determining who is liable for your injuries, and proving how they were negligent. Read on below to see who may be found liable in your drunk driving accident case.

The Drunk Driver

In Missouri, Revised Statute §;304.012 dictates that motorists must "exercise the highest degree of care," when driving. In Illinois, 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1 obligates Illinois drivers to exercise "due care." Put simply, anybody who gets behind the wheel is legally bound to drive in a safe manner.

Drunk driving is not only unsafe, it's against the law. A legal doctrine in personal injury claims called negligence per se prescribes that anyone who breaks the law is automatically liable for your damages if they cause you injury. While drunk drivers can sometimes get out of their criminal case on technicalities, your St. Louis drunk driving accident lawyers will likely still be able prove that they were drunk.

Dram Shop Law in Missouri and Illinois

Many states have what are called dram shop rules, which say that a licensed alcohol vendor can, in some cases, be found liable for the actions of their intoxicated customers if they overserve them. So if a drunk driver causes a car accident and injures you, you may be able to make a claim against a bar or restaurant. The dram show law in Missouri is different than that of Illinois:


Missouri Revised Statute §537.053 allows for dram shop liability only in two specific instances:

  1. If the patron was "visibly intoxicated," meaning they displayed:
    • Significantly uncoordinated physical action
    • Significant physical dysfunction
  2. If the bar, restaurant or employee knew or "should have known" that the patron was under the age of 21

A blood alcohol content above .08% alone is not to hold a dram shop liable for your injuries. You and your drunk driving accident lawyers will have to prove that the vendor or an employee saw signs of physical dysfunction, such as stumbling or slurred speech. Eyewitness testimony and video recordings may help prove your case.


Illinois's Dram Shop Law is fairly liberal, as the customer does not need to be "visibily intoxicated" in order for a vendor to be found liable. 235 ILCS 5/6-21, the Illinois Liquor Control Act, allows an injured person to make a claim against a licensed liquor vendor if:

  • A vendor-patron relationship existed, meaning you can prove that the vendor sold the drunk driver alcohol.
  • You can prove that the alcohol sold by the vendor contributed to the drunk driver's intoxication.
  • You can prove that the driver's intoxication was the proximate cause of your injuries.

Each year, the Illinois Office of Comptroller is required to set liability limits for Dram Shop claims. As of January 20, 2022 those limits are:

  • $77,787.30 for each person injured
  • $95,073.37 per person when an injury or death resulted in either loss of support or loss of society.

When you hire Halvorsen Klote's drunk driving accident lawyers, we'll conduct a full investigation into your case to see if a restaurant or bar is liable for your injuries. It is important to note that dram shop laws only apply to liquor vendors where the alcohol is meant for consumption on the property. So you would not be able to make a claim against a grocery store or liquor store.

Social Host Liability in Missouri and Illinois

Many states have what's called "social host liability," where the host of a gathering on private property can be held liable if they allowed people to drink too much, and that person injures you. Missouri does not allow for social host liability.

Illinois does, however, in one specific situation. 740 ILCS 58/, the Illinois Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act, provides that if an adult willfully supplies alcohol to someone under 18 that is meant to be consumed on the adult's residential property, then that adult may be found liable for any damages caused by the minor.

St. Louis Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers | Halvorsen Klote

If you've been injured by a drunk driver, you deserve to recover compensation from every party who was liable for your injuries. The drunk driving accident lawyers at HK Law have the skill, experience, knowledge and dedication needed to hold negligent parties accountable and get you great results. We serve the injured in Greater St. Louis and Southern Illinois. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a drunk driver, call Halvorsen Klote today at 877-51-HKLAW or contact us online for a free consultation.