Are Bars Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents Involving Preferences?

According to, a popular Point Pleasant Beach bar recently settled two lawsuits over the death of a patron and injuries to another person following a drunk driving accident. Photo of justice

In the lawsuits filed in a Middlesex County court, Martell’s Tiki Bar was accused of overserving a woman alcohol prior to her wrong-way accident with another driver. The crash occurred two years ago.

The woman allegedly left the bar after drinking for several hours, leaving in a vehicle that looked like hers, but was not. The woman reportedly drove the wrong way down Route 18, near the County Road 516 overpass, striking the vehicle of a woman, 57, who was traveling home from work as a nurse.

Prior to the accident, several people called 911 to report the wrong-way driver. The drunk driver was a crisis counselor in New York and a psychology professor at Bergen Community College. She died in the crash. Her blood-alcohol level was .189 at the time of her death, which is more than twice the legal limit.

In a lawsuit, the driver’s family said that she was served alcohol for several hours and somehow managed to drive off in a stranger’s car from a valet parking lot operated by Martell’s. In a separate agreement with the New Jersey Deputy Attorney General, Martell’s agreed that it violated state liquor laws, agreeing to a 30-day license suspension and $500,000 in fines, following the crash. Terms of the settlement with the woman’s family were not released.

In another lawsuit against Martell’s, the victim of the drunk driver also accused the bar of overserving patrons. She reportedly suffered catastrophic injuries in the crash, requiring nine different surgeries. Her lawsuit alleged that she could no longer work, and the terms of her settlement with Martell’s were also kept confidential.

Dram Shop Laws: Holding a Bar Liable Following a Drunk Driving Accident

Venues must take into account the safety of the public before continuously serving guests alcohol. New Jersey has laws that hold establishments liable if they knowingly serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated or who are minors. These are commonly referred to as “dram shop” laws.

Dram shop laws allow victims and their family members to sue venues following drunk driving accidents, if they can prove that their negligence in serving alcohol played a role in a crash. These laws are incredibly complex—if you have questions about liability following a drunk driving accident, it may be in your best interest to speak directly to an injury attorney.

Continue to follow our blog for more information about Middlesex County car accidents. Remember, there are alternatives to drunk driving like public transportation and taxis that are available in most areas in New Jersey.


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