Like many states, Maine maintains a “dram shop” law that allows injury victims to recover compensation from a host or alcohol vendor who provides alcohol to an intoxicated person who ends up causing an accident. Maine’s “Liquor Liability Act,” provides that vendors who are licensed to sell or serve alcohol may be liable for recklessly or negligently providing alcohol to someone who is intoxicated or under 21 years old.
Negligent alcohol service occurs when the server should have known that the patron was intoxicated or under the legal drinking age. Recklessness occurs if the server served alcohol and knew the person was under 21 years old or drunk, and they disregarded a substantial and apparent risk of harm to the individual or another person. In these cases, the vendor may be liable for the intoxicated person’s negligent or reckless conduct towards another individual. Typical vendors in these cases are restaurants, bars, and pubs.
For example, a news report recently described an incident where a 19-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, hitting a curb and flipping his Subaru onto its side. The driver did not suffer injuries, but two of his passengers were taken to a hospital for treatment. The teenager was speeding, under the influence of alcohol and failed to obey road signs when the accident occurred. In a case like this, a social host or vendor who served the underage driver may be liable for the passengers’ injuries and damages.