The Georgia Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the convenience store who sold beer to a man who later caused a fatal accident can be held liable by the families of the victims. The man was reported to be visibly intoxicated when he purchased the alcohol, but attorneys for the store argued that the store clerk could not have known that the man would be driving. He later struck a van with his vehicle and killed himself and five other people.
Writing for the court’s majority, Justice Hugh Thompson says the state’s dram shop act applies to the sale of closed packaged containers of alcohol based on the act’s language. The lone dissenter said that the dram shop act has never applied to locations that do not sell alcohol for consumption on the premises.
Georgia lawmakers could introduce an amendment that would exclude convenience and other stores that sell packaged alcohol from the state’s dram shop law. But until then, the act, which in the past had only applied only to bars, restaurants, clubs now applies to any facility, convenience store, grocery store, package store that sells alcohol.