Over the past several decades, a concerted effort has been made by both private advocacy groups and public law enforcement agencies to reduce the number of injuries and deaths attributable to drinking and driving. One result of those efforts has been the enactment of “Dram Shop” laws that are aimed at creating liability on the part of anyone who furnishes alcohol to someone who then goes on to cause injuries or death. Currently, 30 states have some type of Dram Shop law. The majority of those states, including Nebraska, have Dram Shop laws that only create liability when alcohol has been furnished to minors. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, that caused injury or death in Nebraska, and you are a minor (or he parent of a minor), it would certainly be in your best interest to know more about Nebraska’s Dram Shop law. Consulting with an Omaha DUI lawyer about how the Dram Shop law might relate to your case is best; however, it may also help to learn the basics of the law in the meantime.
Nebraska’s Dram Shop Law
Neb. Rev. Stat. §53-404 is where you will find Nebraska’s Dram Shop law, stating as follows:
Any person who sustains injury or property damage, or the estate of any person killed, as a proximate result of the negligence of an intoxicated minor shall have, in addition to any other cause of action available in tort, a cause of action against:
(1) A social host who allowed the minor to consume alcoholic liquor in the social host’s home or on property under his or her control;
(2) Any person who procured alcoholic liquor for the minor, other than with the permission and in the company of the minor’s parent or guardian, when such person knew or should have known that the minor was a minor; or
(3) Any retailer who sold alcoholic liquor to the minor. The absolute defenses found in section 53-180.07 shall be available to a retailer in any cause of action brought under this section.
The Built-In Dram Shop Defense
As mentioned in the Dram Shop statute, Nebraska also enacted a built-in defense to liability under Nebraska’s Dram Shop statute. Found at Neb. Rev. Stat. §53-180.07, the defense reads as follows:
In any prosecution of or any proceeding against any licensee charged with having made a sale to a minor, proof of the following shall be an absolute defense to the charge:
(1)(a) The purchaser falsely represented in writing and supported with other documentary proof that he or she was of legal age to purchase alcoholic liquor;
(b) The appearance of such purchaser was such that an ordinary and prudent person would believe that such appearance conformed to any documentary description of appearance presented by the purchaser; and
(c) The seller was acting in good faith, in reliance upon the written representation, other documentary evidence, and the appearance of the purchaser, and in the belief the purchaser was of legal age to make such purchase; or
(2) The seller was acting with the knowledge of and in cooperation with a duly authorized law enforcement officer.
How Can an Omaha DUI Lawyer Help?
Liability under the Nebraska Dram Shop law is complicated. If you believe that the Dram Shop law applies to your situation, either because you are a minor and you injured someone while you were under the influence, or because you furnished alcohol to a minor who then injured or killed someone, it is in your best interest to discuss the applicability of the Dram Shop law with an experienced Omaha DUI lawyer. Only an experienced DUI lawyer can explain how and when the law applies and whether or not the built-in defense could prevent liability under the general provisions of the statute.
If you are a minor, or the parent of a minor, and you have been charged with driving under the influence causing injury or death, or DUI causing injury or death, in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.