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Personal Injury

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Dram Shop Liability

Sometimes, it is not only the drinking driver who is at fault in a drunk driving accident. Like many other states, Hawaii holds the party host, bar, restaurant or liquor store that served a drinking driver responsible for any harm he or she causes in a car crash. Hawaii applies such “dram shop liability” to those who sell or serve alcohol to drinking drivers or underage drivers by allowing for criminal charges to be brought against them and by allowing personal injury claims to be brought against them.

Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can help if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident in Honolulu or anywhere in the Hawaii Islands that was caused by a driver who was served alcohol while intoxicated or who was too young to drink legally. We can investigate the circumstances of your accident and, if possible, pursue a claim on your behalf under dram shop liability principles.


Hawaii’s Liquor Control Law makes it illegal to sell or serve alcohol to anyone who is:
• Intoxicated
• Addicted to alcohol
• Consuming the alcohol in a motor vehicle
• Under age 21

This is known as a “dram shop” law. It is so named for 18th-century shops in England that illegally sold gin by the dram (about 3/4 of a teaspoon). The law imposes criminal penalties but not civil liability. However, a Hawaii court case known as Ono v. Applegate concluded that injured parties may hold a bar liable if it served alcohol to a drunk driver who the bartender knew or should have known was under the influence of liquor when they were served. This is considered “common law dram shop liability.”


Your Leavitt Yamane & Soldner attorney can investigate your accident to determine whether you have a dram shop liability case.

For instance, we would gather evidence such as:
• Cell phone records (showing the driver was at a bar, store or party prior to the wreck)
• Debit card or credit card receipts (showing alcohol purchases)
• Witnesses (describing the driver’s alcohol consumption or state of intoxication)

Once we determine whether dram shop liability exists, we can the approach the person or company to negotiate a proper settlement for you or take your case to court. In addition to securing compensation for you, we believe that pursuing dram shop cases helps to make Honolulu and all of Hawaii a safer place. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes, “Studies indicate that enforcement and prosecution of dram shop laws … are associated with a substantial reduction in alcohol-related harm.”

Talk with Our Honolulu Personal Injury Attorneys About Your Dram Shop Case

Our Honolulu car accident lawyers of Leavitt Yamane & Soldner are serious about putting our years of combined experience, skills, and resources to work to hold those who sell alcohol to intoxicated and/or underage people accountable for the harm they cause.

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Helping You Get Your Life Back on Track

Since 1981, each Honolulu personal injury lawyer at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner has stood up for the legal rights of injured people throughout Hawaii. We are aggressive when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. We won’t accept unreasonable delays or denial of a valid personal injury claim. We are also passionate about helping victims and their families to get their lives back on track. We truly care about our clients and want to do whatever we can to secure their future.

It’s important to get in touch with us as soon as possible after your accident or injury. It takes immediate action to preserve evidence, document medical treatment and interview witnesses. It’s also crucial to begin reviewing all available insurance coverage in your case. We provide free and confidential case reviews, with no strings attached. If we take on your case, you won’t pay a cent for our legal services unless we win or settle your case.
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