Dram Shop Laws in South Carolina


Dram shop laws are statutes that hold establishments liable for serving alcohol to individuals who subsequently cause harm to others or themselves as a result of their intoxication. While South Carolina does not have an official dram shop law, it does recognize dram shop liability, allowing victims of drunk driving accidents to pursue legal action against alcohol vendors under certain circumstances.

South Carolina's Recognition of Dram Shop Liability

In South Carolina, Dram Shop Liability allows individuals injured in drunk driving accidents to seek compensation from the establishment that served alcohol to the intoxicated driver. This legal principle holds alcohol vendors accountable for their role in serving alcohol to individuals who were visibly intoxicated or under the legal drinking age, and who subsequently cause harm to others due to their intoxication.

Key Aspects of Dram Shop Liability in South Carolina

  • Laws for Alcohol Businesses: South Carolina law prohibits alcohol vendors from serving alcohol to individuals who are visibly intoxicated or under the age of 21. Moreover, the law prohibits bars or other establishments selling liquor from providing alcohol to underage drinkers for consumption. This might occur at a party or event where underage drinking is planned.
  • Laws for Individuals: Individuals who provide alcohol to minors can also be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages.

Proving Dram Shop Liability

To establish dram shop liability in South Carolina, the following elements must typically be proven:

  1. The alcohol vendor served alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated or under the legal drinking age.
  2. The person’s intoxication was a proximate cause of the injuries or damages suffered by the plaintiff.
  3. The plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the drunk driving accident.

To prove that the alcohol establishment was aware or should have been aware that the customer was drunk, a plaintiff and personal injury attorney must demonstrate that the bar had knowledge of intoxication or should have observed visible signs of drunkenness.

Knowing intoxication involves being aware of:

  • How many alcoholic drinks were consumed
  • The types of drinks consumed
  • The time during which the patron drank the alcohol

Visible signs of intoxication may include:

  • Falling down
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty walking steadily
  • Losing consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Aggressive behavior

Compensation in Dram Shop Liability Claims

Victims of drunk driving accidents in South Carolina may seek various types of compensation in a dram shop liability claim, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Punitive damages (in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct)

Statute of Limitations for Dram Shop Liability Claims

It’s important to note that there is a limited timeframe, known as the statute of limitations, within which a dram shop liability claim must be filed in South Carolina. Generally, this timeframe is three years from the date of the accident. Failing to file within this timeframe can result in the loss of the right to seek compensation.

Contact Our Law Firm Today for a Complimentary Consultation

If you or someone you know has been injured in a drunk driving accident in South Carolina, you may have the right to seek compensation not only from the intoxicated driver but also from the establishment or individual who served alcohol to the driver.

If this applies to your situation, contact our experienced personal injury team at Kent Law Firm.

We will assess your case and assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve. Our team can also determine if you are eligible to pursue punitive damages in your South Carolina dram shop liability case. These damages are awarded by state law to punish a defendant for causing harm to others through reckless, willful, or wanton misconduct. To receive punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions met the criteria outlined in the statute. This burden of proof is higher than that required to win compensatory damages in a dram shop liability case.

We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not owe us anything unless we recover compensation on your behalf. There are no upfront or hidden fees.


Your peace of mind is important to us. We understand that you have already experienced a traumatic event, and we strive to make the compensation claim process as seamless as possible for you.

Contact our law office today at (803) 433-5368 to schedule your complimentary consultation.